Second World War Books

Second World War Books

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Although common wisdom and much scholarship assume that "big government" gained its foothold in the United States under the auspices of the New Deal during the Great Depression, in fact it was World War II that accomplished this feat. Indeed, as the federal government mobilized for war it grew tenfold, quickly dwarfing the New Deal's welfare programs. Warfare State shows how the federal government, in the course of World War II, vastly expanded its influence over American society. Equally important, it looks at how and why Americans adapted to this expansion of authority. Through mass participation in military service, war work, rationing, price control, income taxation and ownership of the national debt in the form of war bonds, ordinary Americans learned to live with the warfare state. They accepted these new obligations because the government encouraged all citizens to think of themselves as personally connected to the battle front, and to imagine the impact of their every action on the combat soldier. By working for the American Soldier, they habituated themselves to the authority of the government. Citizens made their own counter-claims on the state--particularly in the case of industrial workers, women, African Americans, and most of all, the soldiers. Their demands for fuller citizenship offer important insights into the relationship between citizen morale, the uses of patriotism, and the legitimacy of the state in wartime. World War II forged a new bond between citizens, nation, and government. Warfare State tells the story of this dramatic transformation in American life.

From the dangers of London streets during the Blitz to working on the high seas in the Merchant Navy during the Atlantic Convoy, children were on the frontline of battle during the Second World War. In Sean Longden's gripping retelling of the conflict, he explores how the war impacted upon a whole generation who lost their innocence at home and abroad, on the battlefield and the home front. Through extensive interviews and research, Longden uncovers previously untold stories of heroism and courage: the eleven year old boy who was sunk on the SS Benares and left in frozen water for two days; the teenage Girl Guide awarded the George Medal for bravery; the merchant seaman sunk three times by the age of seventeen; the fourteen year old who signed up for the army three times before finally seeing action in the Normandy campaign; the fourteen year old 'Boy Buglers' of the Royal Marines on active service onboard battleships; as well as the harrowing experiences of the boy who was survived the Bethnal Green Tube Disaster; the horrors of being a child captive in the German PoW camps. Blitz Kids will change forever the way one sees the relationship between the Second World War and the generation - our grandparents and great grandparents- who bravely faced the challenge of Nazism. Allowing them to tell their stories in their own words, Sean Longden brings both the horrors and the humour of young lives lived in troubled times.

Nothing prepares a man for war and Private Charles Waite, of the 2/7th Queen's Royal Regiment, was certainly ill-prepared when his convoy carrying supplies of petrol and ammunition on its way to Dunkirk took a wrong turning near Abbeville. They met half a dozen German tanks on the road and saw hundreds of German soldiers marching across fields towards them. 'The day I was captured, I had a rifle but no ammunition.' Charles lost his freedom that day in May 1940 and didn't regain it until May 1945 when he was finally picked up by the Americans, having walked 1600km from his prison camp attached to Stalag 20B in East Prussia. 'When I got back I couldn't tell anybody about what had happened during my years as a POW. I was ashamed. I hadn't won any medals; I had no stories of brave deeds. How could I be proud of breaking rocks for 12 hours day or pulling cabbages out of frozen ground at gunpoint? Would they have wanted to hear about the wounded soldiers dying in my arms, of the acts of cruelty I witnessed, and the terrible hunger and fatigue suffered on the Long March? Everybody wanted to forget the war and get on with rebuilding their lives.' Silent for 70 years, for the first time he has put his story on paper. He describes his first march from Abbeville to Trier and journey by cattle truck across Germany to the east; working in a stone quarry and years of farm labour; his period in solitary confinement for sabotage; and the Long March home in the one of the worst winters on record. His story is also about friendship, of physical and mental resilience, and of compassion for everyone who suffered.

The Second World War widows were the 'forgotten women', largely ignored by the government and the majority of the population. The men who died in the service of their country were rightly honoured, but the widows and orphans they left behind were soon forgotten. During the war and afterwards in post-war austerity Britain their lives were particularly bleak. The meagre pensions they were given were taxed at the highest rate and gave them barely enough to keep body and soul together, let alone look after their children. Through their diaries, letters and personal interviews we are given an insight into post-war Britain that is a moving testament to the will to survive of a generation of women. War's Forgotten Women is a moving testament to a generation of women and their will to survive against the odds, to find their voice and to fight for recognition, and to rebuild their live after the tragedy of war.

Between 1939 and 1945 the world witnessed what is generally agreed to be the most horrific war in history. Millions died and millions more were physical or psychologically wounded by the conflict. Yet amidst the pain and devastation, people were not only able to survive, but also managed to maintain a sense of humour. For some, it was precisely this ability to laugh at their misfortunes (and those of the other side) that enabled them to solider on. This was especially true of the British, a nation whose reaction to more or less anything up to and including someone's house being bombed to rubble tended to be, 'never mind, have a cup of tea. This "Blitz Spirit" is perhaps best summed up by Mona Lott, one of the characters in Tommy Handley's radio show It's That Man Again (the show's title itself being a comical reference to Hitler): "it's being so cheerful as keeps me going."

If you're interested in the story behind the deadliest conflict in human history, or are just curious about facts and figures, then this is the book for you. In this easy-to-read and fascinating compilation, "The Second World War" is broken down into an array of topics, revealing such statistics as who were the best fighter aces, what were the top ten military blunders during the war, and which were the biggest battleships or the best tanks. There are lists of the various escape attempts from Colditz, the code names used for military operations and even which actors have ever played Hitler on screen. All the major events and dates in the war are covered in detail, but equal emphasis is placed on the human experience of combat in the field and on the home front. Often poignant and always revealing, "World War II: The Book of Lists" offers a unique insight into those tumultuous years.

"WWII in Cartoons" provides a unique insight into the second World War through the medium of newspaper cartoons published at the time. The cartoonist's skill in distilling the events and situations which shaped the course of the war provides an ideal platform from which to view the struggle. "WWII in Cartoons" uses one hundred contemporary cartoons to illustrate the conflict, places these in context and provides details explaining the event or issue and its significance to the story of the war. Structured in chronological order, it also provides a narrative to the war covering all the major turning points as events unfolded. It provides a fascinating insight from both a historic, cultural and artistic perspective to WWII.

Some consider Guderian to be the founding father of blitzkrieg warfare, and he certainly brought the whole concept to public attention and prominence, chiefly through the publication of his book "Achtung Panzer" in 1937. He commanded the XIX (Motorized) Army Corps in the 1939 Polish campaign, and Panzergruppe Guderian during Operation Barbarossa. In March 1943 he became chief inspector of the Panzer forces, but even the great tank commander could achieve little more than to delay the inevitable defeat of Germany.

The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous military campaign of the Second World War, raging from 1939 to 1945. It saw the might of the Royal Navy pitted against the Kriegsmarine. Germany's secret weapon was their fleet of U-boats. They had the largest fleet of submarines in the world and this enabled them to play cat and mouse with the Allied forces to devastating effect. Hunting in 'wolf-packs' they would prey on merchant shipping and naval vessels. In this startling new book, Jak P. Mallmann Showell tells the story of this battle as viewed through the conning towers of these U-boats. Using surviving logs, written as the action unfolded. Taste the salt, smell the nauseating stench of the U-boats and hear the orders of kill or be killed whispered quietly while diving back in time to the horrendous inhumanity of the Battle of the Atlantic.

Written to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the first predominantly anti-capitalist revolution in the world, Mexico’s Revolution Then and Now is the perfect introductory text and one that will also sharpen the understanding of seasoned observers. Cockcroft provides readers with the historical context within which the revolution occurred; explains how the revolutionary process has played out over the past ten decades; tells us how the ideals of the revolution live on in the minds of Mexico’s peasants and workers; and critically examines the contours of modern Mexican society, including its ethnic and gender dimensions. Well-deserved attention is paid to the tensions between the rulers and the ruled inside the country and the connected tensions between the Mexican nation and the neighboring giant to the north.

The demands of a nation at war had many far-reaching effects on the average home. How did women cope with bringing up a family single-handed after their husbands were conscripted for military service? How did they use the rations and keep up their family's spirits? What was it like to 'Make Do and Mend' or 'Dig for Victory', or to sleep in an Anderson shelter? By looking at the lives of ordinary people who inhabited the semi-detatched world of suburbia, Mike and Carol Harris have painted a vivid picture of daily life on the Home Front in wartime Britain. Chapters include: The Suburban Dream, House Beautiful, Furniture and Furnishings, Housework and DIY, Rationing, The Wartime Kitchen, 'If the Invader Comes', Fashion, Entertainment and Reconstruction. With a wealth of illustrations and ephemera, this book brings wartime experience to life.

Written to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the first predominantly anti-capitalist revolution in the world, Mexico’s Revolution Then and Now is the perfect introductory text and one that will also sharpen the understanding of seasoned observers. Well-deserved attention is paid to the tensions between the rulers and the ruled inside the country and the connected tensions between the Mexican nation and the neighboring giant to the north.

On 25 December 1943 the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst slipped out Altenfjord in Norway to attack Artic convoy JW55B which was carrying vital war supplies to the Soviet Union. But British naval intelligence knew of the Scharnhorst's mission before she sailed and the vulnerable convoy was protected by a large Royal Naval force including the battleship Duke of York. In effect the Scharnhorst was sailing into a trap. One of the most compelling naval dramas of the Second World War had begun. Angus Konstam's gripping account tells the story of this crucial and under-studied naval battle, and explains why the hopes of the German Kriegsmarine went down with their last great ship.

Born into a working-class family in London in 1919, Victor Gregg enlisted in the Rifle Brigade at nineteen, was sent to the Middle East and saw action in Palestine. Following service in the western desert and at the battle of Alamein, he joined the Parachute Regiment and in September 1944 found himself at the battle of Arnhem. When the paratroopers were forced to withdraw, Gregg was captured. He attempted to escape, but was caught and became a prisoner of war; sentenced to death in Dresden for attempting to escape and burning down a factory, only the allies' infamous raid on the city the night before his execution saved his life. Gregg's fascinating story, told in a voice that is good-natured and completely original, continues after the end of the war. In the fifties he became chauffeur to the Chairman of the Moscow Norodny bank in London, involved in shady dealings and strange meetings with MI5, MI6 and the KGB. His adventures, though, were not over - in 1989, on one of his many motorbike expeditions into Eastern Europe, he found himself at a rally of 700 people in a field in Sopron at a fence that formed part of the barrier between the Soviet Union and the West. Vic cut the wire, and a few weeks later the Berlin Wall itself was destroyed - a truly unexpected coda to an incredible life lived to the full. This is the story of a true survivor.

You probably already know the basic story of what happened on D-Day - but it is almost certain that your knowledge is based upon books written from the Allied perspective. "Normandiefront" provides a fresh and unique exploration of the greatest seaborne invasion in history. It also explains just why the Americans on Omaha beach suffered the Longest Day of all. As the ramps went down and the Amis plunged into the water, their commanders expected them to face just one battalion of mediocre occupation troops - but the veterans and the new recruits of the 352nd Division were waiting instead. Authors Vince Milano and Bruce Conner have interviewed the surviving members of that formidable fighting force - at the same time amassing a collection of German and Allied photographs and documents, many of which are published here for the first time. The fight to get off the beach and then the seemingly interminable struggle through the bocage - from hedgerow to hedgerow, as the German line fell back only to reform and counter-attack time and time again, all the way to the ruins of St Lo - was one of the most intense ever experienced by any army. General leutnant Dietrich Kraiss' deployment of his men is a fascinating military case study in itself. The General, responsible for the stretch of coastline that included Omaha beach and part of Gold beach, was an Eastern Front veteran, as were many of his men. He was therefore used to facing an adversary who outnumbered and outgunned his forces and was well versed in the tactics of defence and counter-attack. The division actually expected to be sent East any day and had been trained for it. Denied the use of one third of his division during the crucial first hours of the invasion that had been held in reserve by higher commands, he tenaciously held his ground until they were released and then mounted a skilful defensive campaign. The reinforcements needed to contain the Allied breakout from the beachhead never came - partly because German High Command refused to accept that Normandy really was the main invasion target and not Pas de Calais. As the authors point out, 'Any Grenadier in the 352nd could have told them differently.' With over 200 photographs and those priceless interviews with German veterans, "Normandiefront" is an important addition to the literature of World War II, telling as it does the story of how one German division changed the course of the invasion and almost the entire war.

The Second World War is vanishing into the pages of history. The veterans were once all around us, but their numbers are fast diminishing. While still in their prime many recorded their memories with Peter Hart for the Imperial War Museum. As these old soldiers now fade away their voices from the front are still strong with a rare power to bring the horrors of war back to vivid life. The 2nd Norfolk Regiment were a proud old regular battalion honed in the pre-war traditions of spit and polish at their Britannia Barracks in Norwich. Sent to France they sold their lives to gain time for the retreat to Dunkirk when surrounded by an SS Division at Le Paradis in May 1940. Over 100 of the survivors would be brutally massacred. Back in England they reformed from ordinary drafts of men called up from all over the country. A new battalion was born. Sent to India they met the Japanese head on in the bloody fight for Kohima against the Imperial Japanese Army. As the fighting raged in the jungle the Norfolks were once again right at the very sharp end of modern war. This is their story.

The Rhine River represented the last natural defensive barrier for the Third Reich in the fall of 1944. Although Hitler had been reluctant to allow the construction of tactical defense lines in France, the final defense of the Reich was another matter. As a result, construction of a Rhine defense line began in September 1944. Steven J Zaloga examines the multiple phases of construction undertaken to strengthen the Westwall (Siegfried Line), to fortify many of the border villages, and finally to prepare for the demolition of the Rhine bridges. Using detailed maps, color artwork, and expert analysis, this book takes a detailed look at Germany's last line of defense.

Slavomir Rawicz was a young Polish cavalry officer. On 19 November 1939 he was arrested by the Russians and after brutal interrogation he was sentenced to 25 years in the Gulags. After a 3-month journey to Siberia in the depths of winter he escaped with 6 companions, realising that to stay in the camp meant almost certain death. In June 1941 they crossed the trans-Siberian railway and headed south, climbing into Tibet and freedom 9 months later in March 1942 after travelling on foot through some of the harshest regions in the world, including the Gobi Desert. First published in 1956, this is one of the world's greatest true stories of adventure, survival and escape.

The 16th Durham Light Infantry were supposed to be just an 'ordinary' battalion. But their experiences as they fought their way up through Italy show that there is no such thing as 'ordinary'. They struggled to break out from Salerno, then across the countless rivers and mountain ranges that seemed to spring up to bar their way to victory. They learnt their military skills the hard way facing determined German opposition every step of the way. These were no "D-Day Dodgers" but heroes in their own right. But there was another battle being fought as they struggled to maintain their morale day by day, as their friends died and their seemed to be no end in sight. This is their story.

Over 8 million women stayed at home during the Second World War and their story has never been told. Using brand new research from the Mass-Observation Archive, Jennifer Purcell brings to life - in all its tragedy, pathos, joy and fear - the lives of six ordinary women made extraordinary by the demands of war. In their diaries and notes they record the inner thoughts and everyday activities as they tried to survive come what may. Nella Last, the archetypal housewife struggles between the demands of her husband and her desire to help the war effort. Cambridge-educated, middle-class Natalie Tanner sneaks out to the cinema whenever possible and discusses politics in town, leading a leisured life while others try to scrape by. Saddled with a draughty and unwieldy centuries-old home directly in the path of German bombs, Helen Mitchell constantly tries to escape the war and her domestic life. Opinionated and patriotic Edie Rutherford uses the war to escape the home and go to work. Alice Bridges endures the horrors of the Blitz on her home town of Birmingham and finds a new and exciting social life as she reports the war for Mass-Observation. Housebound for most of the war with debilitating arthritis, working-class Irene Grant struggles to keep her family fed and dreams of a better Britain. Intensely moving and personal, each woman reveals their most secret fears and hopes, as well as the everyday problems of wanting to contribute to the war effort, keeping a house together under difficult circumstances, the travails of rationing, work and volunteering, whilst maintaining their duties as wife and mother. Jennifer Purcell redraws a new, emotional and unexpected history of the Second World War as it was experienced by those left behind, the domestic soldiers.

In September 1944 the Soviet Army poured into German territory, flooding the martial heartland of the Reich, Prussia. Hopelessly outnumbered by the human wave of the Red Army, the Wehrmacht fought on with determination, but was gradually beaten back. This book describes the great battles that marked the Soviet conquest of Prussia, from Memel to Konigsberg, the Heiligenbeil Pocket to Danzig. Using accounts never before published in English, Prit Buttar looks at the campaign both from a command level, and from the perspective of normal soldiers on the front line.

Immortalized in film and literature, the 15th century castle of Colditz is remembered not for tales of medieval chivalry or withstanding withering sieges but for its darker past, when it was converted by the Nazis into a prisoner-of-war camp called Oflag IV-C. A natural choice for a prison, Colditz had been used successfully during the First World War and had gained a reputation for being impossible to escape from. But this reputation was dramatically shattered by the ingenuity of the prisoners interned there. This book examines the history of Colditz, the methods used to keep prisoners inside her formidable walls, and the techniques by which her prisoners attempted to escape.

In May 1943, a specially established RAF squadron made its permanent imprint on military aviation history by flying a high-risk, low level, nighttime attack against German hydro-electric dams vital to the Nazi armaments industry in the Ruhr Valley. A comparatively tiny part of Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris' four-month-long Battle of the Ruhr, this one raid had an impact totally out of proportion to the small number of aircraft involved. It highlights the synergy of science and technology, weapons development and production, mission planning and practice, and the unflinching courage in the execution of a highly dangerous bombing raid. Furthermore, it established a legend that still resonates today.

This Osprey Command title looks closely at the early life, military experiences and key battlefield exploits of Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, first Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (1887-1976), perhaps the best-known, most highly respected and most controversial British general of World War II. Monty's reputation was made while in command in North Africa, in the Mediterranean and then North-West Europe. Arguably his best-known achievement was rebuilding a dispirited and defeated eighth army and inflicting a decisive defeat on Rommel at El Alamein. Montgomery's style and exercise of command and his personal reputation were largely shaped by his highly driven, but often difficult and enigmatic personality. He made an incalculable contribution to the Allied victory in Europe, and his leadership had played a crucial role in transforming the British Army into a war-winning weapon.

Alex de Quesada reveals the full history of the US Coast Guard throughout World War II in this Elite title. In particular, the book draws attention to the little-known story of how the US Coast Guard ran a number of the landing craft throughout D-Day in 1944 as well as providing crucial anti-U-boat patrols throughout the war years. A number of Coast Guard servicemen were lost in these two campaigns, and their undeniable contribution to the US war effort deserves greater recognition. The Coast Guard also provided aviators and gunners to the Merchant Marine and manned Port Security Services. These roles are all fully explained and illustrated with rare photographs and specially commissioned artwork.

Horatius Murray (1903-1989) was commissioned into the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) in 1923. and played football for the Army and excelled at many sports. In 1935, he went to Staff College before training with the German Army in 1937. He commanded the 3rd Battalion The Cameron Highlanders in 1940 before being sent to North Africa where he commanded the 1st Gordon Highlanders. Despite being wounded at El Alamein he commanded no less than four divisions (as recounted in this memoir). After commanding Scottish Command he became C-in-C Allied Forces Northern Europe. After retiring in 1961 he dedicated himself to worthy causes notably as Chairman of the Royal Hospital for Incurables Putney.

Archibald Wavell's life and career makes a marvellous subject. Not only did he reach the highest rank (Field Marshal) and become an Earl and Viceroy of India but his character was complex. He joined the Black Watch in 1901. He stood out during the Great War, quickly earning the Military Cross but losing an eye. He was at Versailles in 1918 but between the Wars his career advanced with Brigade and General commands notably in Palestine where he spotted Orde Wingate. By the outbreak of war he was GOC-in-C Middle East.Early successes against the Italians turned into costly failures in Greece and Crete and Wavell lost the confidence of Churchill; their temperaments differed completely. Wavell was sent to India as C-in-C. After Pearl Harbour Wavell was made Supreme Allied Commander for the SW Pacific and bore responsibility for the humiliating loss of Singapore (he quickly recognized that it could not be held). Problems in Burma tested Churchill s patience and he was removed from command to be Viceroy and Governor General of India. As civil unrest and demands for independence grew, in 1947 Prime Minister Attlee replaced Wavell with Mountbatten who oversaw Partition.Wavell died in 1950, after a life of huge achievement tempered with many reverses, most of which were not of his making.

Britain was an island under siege. The march of the Nazi war machine had been unrelenting. France and Belgium had quickly fallen and now she stood alone to counter this gravest ever threat to her sovereignty in almost a thousand years of history. However, her fate would not be decided by armies of millions but by a unique band of fighter pilots. It was on their shoulders that Britain's only chances of survival rested. Today it seems almost unimaginable. Yet in the summer of 1940 it was all too real. Above the villages and cities, playing fields and market towns, the skies of southern England were the scene of countless dogfights as the fledgling Fighter Command duelled daily against the might of the Luftwaffe. It was an unforgiving test of combat, that measured men and machine ruthlessly. Lavishly illustrated with photographs, contemporary art and posters, and accompanied by numerous first-hand accounts, this is a volume that captures the reality and the romance of a defining chapter in British history.

Pulp History brings to life extraordinary feats of bravery, violence, and redemption that history has forgotten. These stories are so dramatic and thrilling they have to be true. In Shadow Knights, everyday men and women risk their lives on top-secret missions to sabotage Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. Hell-bent on conquering Europe, Hitler had just set his sights on England when Winston Churchill reached into his bag of tricks and invented a secret spy network of ordinary citizens. These schoolteachers, housewives, prostitutes, and farmers abandoned their former lives, trained in covert black ops, and set Europe ablaze. Parachuting into Nazi territory under the cover of night, they destroyed factories, armed resistance networks, and turned Hitler's juggernaut on its head.

Firefighters in the Second World War were as crucial to victory as the army - and they ran the same sort of risks. Sixteen thousand were killed and 180,000 injured. The rest never forgot the dreadful things they saw: "Once you've pulled a dead child out of a burning building, you never forget it", said one of them. This is their story, from the Blitz in 1940 to the doodlebugs in 1944. It is also the story of how the modern fire service was created, under the pressure of a new sort of war, and of how the firefighters' own trade union made it work.

Nicknamed the 'Libyan Desert Taxi Service' by the SAS, the Long Range Desert Group was tasked with strategic reconnaissance and raiding operations deep inside the enemy-held deserts of North Africa. Armed with light weapons only, and equipped with specially converted light cars and trucks capable of withstanding the harsh conditions, the LRDG quickly proved it could operate in parts of the desert which other troops, including the enemy, found impassable. This new Warrior title, examines the soldiers of the LRDG from the group's formation, through training, to combat in vast, lonely, and deadly deserts of North Africa.

In May 1941, the German battleship Bismarck, accompanied by heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, broke out into the Atlantic to attack Allied shipping. The Royal Navy ‘s pursuit and subsequent destruction of Bismarck was an epic of naval warfare. Astonishingly, nearly seventy years on, this new book by Iain Ballantyne, Killing the Bismarck, alters our perception of this legendary episode, by focusing on the eyewitness accounts of British sailors, marines and carrier aviators, some of them published for the first time in a compelling narrative. During this action-packed story we go aboard cruisers playing a lethal cat and mouse game as they shadow Bismarck and experience the horror of the British battlecruiser Hood’s destruction, a disaster that filled the men of pursuing Royal Navy units with a thirst for revenge. We fly in Swordfish torpedo-bombers as valiant aircrews take off in atrocious weather and defy storms of anti-aircraft fire during desperate bids to cripple Bismarck. We sail in destroyers as they make daring torpedo attacks, battling mountainous seas. During the final showdown battleships Rodney and King George V, supported by cruisers, destroy the pride of Hitler’s fleet in a close-quarters battle, the terrible reality of which has never been fully depicted in print before. We also experience Winston Churchill’s anxious vigil and learn of the key role the victory played in establishing the ‘Special Relationship’ between the USA and UK. The author analyses the myths surrounding Bismarck and her destruction, considering whether they have any substance. Included are portraits of the short fighting lives of legendary British warships, such as the battleship Prince of Wales and destroyer Cossack as well as men who sailed to death or glory in them. Providing a harrowing insight into the unremitting cruelty of war at sea, as well as the courage and compassion of frail humans pitted against savage weather and plunged into brutal combat, Killing the Bismarck is delivered with the verve of a novel, taking the reader on a roller-coaster ride in which each twist and turn yields new shocks.

As the Second World War loomed, everyone expected it would bring a new kind of conflict to Britain. Raids by airships in the First World War and the attack on Guernica in the Spanish Civil War had given a terrifying taste of what was to come. So when war was declared in September 1939 massive air raids against civilians were anticipated. Cities and strategic ports were the first to be hit. London was a major target throughout the war. But it was not only the capital that suffered: on 8 November 1940, 30,000 incendiary bombs rained down on Coventry, laying waste to the city, including, famously, its cathedral. Port cities such as Plymouth, Bristol and Liverpool also suffered especially badly. In "Blitz Diary" historian Carol Harris has collected together a remarkable series of accounts from the war's darkest days, with heart-warming stories of survival, perseverance, solidarity and bravery, the preservation of which becomes increasingly important as the Blitz fades from living memory.

When Christine Cuss (nee Pierce) was born in 1934, her doting father began a journal addressed to her. At first, he recorded everyday details such as first teeth and family holidays, but as the 1930s progressed his words took on a more sinister tone, as Europe and the world prepared for war. As well as being a rare historical document, "Notes to my Daughter" shows another side to the Second World War. It was written by a man who was torn between his duty to his country and his to his family. In a poignant and heart-warming turn of events, at every crossroads Alexander Pierce chose his family, not least his only daughter, Christine. This little family is an example of the spirit and determination of the British people through difficult times. Old or young, the sentiments expressed in these loving entries to a cherished child will not fail to touch and move all who read them, and open a window into the extraordinary life of an ordinary family.

After the long winter of the Phoney War the invasion of the Low Countries and France by Hitler’s rampaging armies threw the World into crisis. Chamberlain’s Government fell, Churchill became Prime Minister. France was humiliated, the British Expeditionary Force was only saved by the miracle of Dunkirk but many men and huge amounts of equipment were lost to the Blitzkrieg. England trembled but the invasion never came. Philip Warner graphically recounts the momentous events of that terrible period thanks to his painstaking research and skilful writing. He demonstrates how the under trained and ill-equipped British forces gallantly but futilely resisted the German land and air onslaught. He emphasises the understated contribution of the French. This book provides a fresh and invaluable explanation of the military and political events of that extraordinary campaign, which continued on after Dunkirk.

This is the story of the two divisions: the American 29th and the British 3rd. After describing the agonies suffered by the Americans on Omaha, and the difficulties that faces the British in overcoming strongpoints at Sword Beach on D-Day, the author traces both divisions as they try to break through the German defences. It was to take the GI’s nearly six weeks to reach their objective, whilst the Tommies were forced into a concurrent holding operation redolent of the trench warfare experience of World War One. The main part of Caen, the central communication point and respective objective was eventually captured on the 9th July, but by this point, the two Allied divisions had suffered more than 10,000 casulaties, and several thousands of French civilians had been killed.

This well researched and well written book covers the early campaigns and battles that earned The Desert Rats their fame and name. This volume covers the difficult early years when ultimate victory was less than certain. The Nazis were victorious on many fronts and Britain stood alone. Indeed it was at El Alamein that 7 Armoured Division and the rest of Montgomery's Eighth Army turned the tide. The church bells rang out in Britain and a new spirit was born. But much fighting lay ahead and many were to die. The successful completion of the North African campaign led to the invasion of Sicily and the long slog up Italy. The Desert Rats were at the forefront of these campaigns. Three Victoria Crosses were won in the desert and many famous names were associated with the Division, such as Field Marshal Lord Carver and Major General Pip Roberts. The Division's story is told by many first hand contributions and is the result of painstaking research by the author who was also a 'Desert Rat'.

George S. Patton Jr. was the iconic American field commander of World War II, and widely regarded as the US Army's finest practitioner of mechanized warfare. This title examines Patton's colorful life and leadership in three wars, with a concentration on his command in World War II. Despite his ability, Patton was thoroughly reviled by most GIs, partly due to his insistence on traditional military discipline in the ranks, but also because of his unwillingness to pander to the growing power of the press. This combination of ability and controversy have combined to make him one of the most interesting figures in American military history.

This is the extraordinary story of how British and American Intelligence thwarted a wartime plan for a daring mass break-out of German prisoners-of-war from a camp in Wiltshire, led by a hard-core of SS troops. As December 1944 drew to a close, trainee American interrogators stumbled on a plan so fantastic in concept that it was hard to take seriously. The allied camp authorities were relieved of their command by a team from the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre (CSDIC) who broke the prisoners involved and got to the bottom of the story. With their escape plans in tatters, the SS took their revenge. Transferred to a harsh POW camp in Scotland, they 'tried' and murdered a fellow prisoner (who was not a Nazi), accused of betraying the Fuhrer. Eventually Scotland Yard and CSDIC were called in to investigate the SS's rule of terror within the camp, and the murder. Despite the SS code of silence, enough evidence was uncovered to convict of murder, and eventually hang, five of the perpetrators. Why was the Devizes camp so unprepared for a possible break-out? Why was a known anti-Nazi sent to the camp in Scotland, and to his death?

After seven weeks of bitter fighting there was a desperate need to break out of the Normandy bridgehead. In late July 1944 Lieutenant-General Sir Miles Dempsey’s Second Army moved two entire corps from the Caen sector to the relatively quiet countryside around Caumont. Here, the British XXX Corps prepared to give battle, with VII Corps advancing in support on the right flank between XXX Corps and the American first Army. The offensive did not go to plan. While the XXX Corps attack stalled, VIII Corps surged ahead. With the experienced 11th Armoured and 15th Scottish Divisions in the lead and Guards Armoured close behind, a deep penetration was made, threatening to take the pivotal city of Vire and unhinge General Hausser’s German Seventh Army. The main narrative of this book will span the initial break-in from Caumont on 30 July, through the armoured battles of the following days, to the desperate German counter-attacks of 4 – 6 August, the no less desperate German defence of Estry up to the middle of the month, and the final withdrawal from Normandy. The book also examines Monty’s refusal to seize Vire, the disputed Anglo-American border and the Operation’s impact on the German Mortain offensive.

What was life in the Red Army like for the ordinary soldier during the Great Patriotic War, the fight between the Soviet Union and Germany on the Eastern Front? How far is the common perception of Red Army heroism and sacrifice borne out by historical reality? And what was the daily experience of the individual soldier caught up in this immense and ruthless conflict? The 160 contemporary photographs from the Russian archives that have been selected for this book give a striking insight into all sides of wartime service for the Soviet soldier. The whole range of military experience is portrayed here, from recruitment and the rigours of training to transport, marching and the ordeal of combat. Artem Drabkin is the creator of the website I Remember which is devoted to recording the oral history of the soldiers and airmen who fought on the Eastern Front. His archive of memoirs and eyewitness accounts is a valuable source for researchers who are studying the Soviet side of the fighting, and it is a fascinating record of the experience of warfare. Among the many publications derived from his work are Tank Rider, Red Road From Stalingrad, T-34 in Action, Red Partisan, Escape From Auschwitz, Barbarossa and the Retreat to Moscow: Recollections of Soviet Fighter Pilots on the Eastern Front, Bomber Pilot on the Eastern Front and Guns Against the Reich.

In three years of war on the Eastern Front - from the desperate defence of Moscow, through the epic struggles at Stalingrad and Kursk to the final offensives in central Europe - artilleryman Petr Mikhin experienced the full horror of battle. In this vivid memoir he recalls distant but deadly duels with German guns, close-quarter hand-to-hand combat, and murderous mortar and tank attacks, and he remembers the pity of defeat and the grief that accompanied victories that cost of thousands of lives. He was wounded and shell-shocked, he saw his comrades killed and was nearly captured, and he was threatened with the disgrace of a court martial. For years he lived with the constant strain of combat and the ever-present possibility of death. And he recalls his experiences with a candour and an immediacy that brings the war on the Eastern Front - a war of immense scale and intensity - dramatically to life. Petr Alexeevich Mikhin trained as a schoolteacher before the Second World War and served as an artillery man throughout the conflict. He fought the German army in the battles for Stalingrad, Kursk, Ukraine, Moldova, Rumania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria and Czechoslovakia, and late in the war he was transferred to the Far East to fight the Japanese army in China. He was wounded three times and suffered shell shock, and he finished the war as a highly decorated officer with the rank of a captain. After the war he returned to teaching mathematics in civil and military schools, and he retired as a lieutenant colonel. Petr Mikhin is the author of numerous short stories and three books, all of them based on his extraordinary wartime experiences.

This is the remarkable true story of a young army glider pilot’s experience of the last days in the defence of Arnhem Bridge, his eventual capture and then escape to be adopted by the Resistance, the hair-raising journey through occupied Europe and his eventual return to the UK. After capture Freeman was first taken to Apeldoorn where he was hospitalized, claiming shell-shock. Although quite sane, he feigned trauma with escape in mind, until being punished for aiding the escape of four Allied inmates. Then he was put on a train bound for Germany, from this he escaped and eventual made contact with the Dutch underground. He is given civilian cloths and a bicycle and rides overnight to Barnveld where he stays with a schoolmaster and church organist. Then another cycle ride to a farm where he sleeps in the hayloft and finally still on his bike, he rides through the German front lines. He eventually is returned to RAF Broadwell by Dakota to resume his part in the war, from capture to freedom within a month. The text is interspersed with flashbacks to the author’s childhood and early training, capturing the true spirit of a typical modest and yet outstandingly brave young man of the wartime era.

With its distinctive, twin-tailed design, the P-38 was one of the most recognizable fighter aircraft of World War II. It was also one of the best. The perfect balance of speed, firepower and range, it made a formable opponent during the crucial battles for the Solomon Islands and New Guinea. In response, the Japanese worked with the Germans to develop the Ki-61, a heavy air superiority fighter with an impressive array of firepower. In head-to-head match-ups, the P-38 proved the superior fighter, but individual duels often came down to the ability and experience of the individual pilots. This book recreates these fast, deadly duels in the skies of the Pacific using dramatic artwork and first-hand accounts.

Michael K. Jones's new history of Stalingrad offers a radical reinterpretation of the most famous battle of the WW2. Combining eyewitness testimony of Red Army fighters with fresh archive material, the book gives a dramatic insight into the thinking of the Russian command and the mood of the ordinary soldiers. He focuses on the story of the Russian 62nd Army, which began the campaign in utter demoralisation, yet turned the tables on the powerful German 6th Army. He explains the Red Army's extraordinary performance using battle psychology, emphasising the vital role of leadership, morale and motivation in a triumph that turned the course of the war.

Colin Anson was born Claus Ascher in Berlin and raised a Protestant. He was forced to flee Nazi Germany because his father, Curt Ascher, was one of Hitler's few serious political opponents during the 1930s. Curt stood up for his beliefs, was arrested by the Gestapo, imprisoned at Dachau and murdered there in 1937. In 1939, with his own life in danger, Colin found refuge in Britain, where he went on to join the British Army. Selected for Commando service, he trained with 3 Troop, the only German-speaking unit in the British armed forces. He was attached to the Royal Marines and took part in the invasion of Italy and Sicily in 1943, surviving a near-fatal head wound, before participating in raids into Yugoslavia and Albania, and then in the liberation of Corfu. At the end of the war, he was to find out who had betrayed his father, and the book includes an account of how he reacted to this discovery. Not only is "German Schoolboy, British Commando" a thrilling account of his valiant service in the second World War, its description of Colin's childhood as the son of one of Hitler's most outspoken opponents provides a unique insight into the political maelstrom of 1930s Germany. It is an extraordinary portrait of a son's bravery and determination, continuing his father's legacy as he fought to defeat the Nazis.

"In many ways I was like Alice," writes Alan Macfarlane on his first encounter with Japan, "that very assured and middle-class English girl, when she walked through the looking glass. I was full of certainty, confidence and unexamined assumptions about my categories. In this fascinating and endlessly surprising book he takes us with him on an exploration of every aspect of Japanese society from the most public to the most intimate.

Landing on the beach at Peleliu in 1944 as twenty-year-old new recruit to the US Marines, Eugene Sledge can only try desperately to survive. At Peleliu and Okinawa two of the fiercest and filthiest Pacific battles of WWII he witnesses the dehumanising brutality displayed by both sides and the animal hatred that each soldier has for his enemy. During temporary lapses in the fighting, conditions on the islands mean that the Marines often can't wash, stay dry, dig latrines, or even find time to eat. Suffering from constant fear, fatigue, and filth, the struggle of simply living in a combat zone is utterly debilitating. Yet despite horrendous conditions Sledge finds time to keep notes that he would later turn into a book. Described as one of the finest memoirs to emerge from any war, With the Old Breed tells with compassion and honesty of the cruelty, bravery and deaths of the men he fought alongside, and of his own journey from patriotic innocence to batte-scarred veteran.

In 1942 and 1943, rumors began to circulate in Britain about a “giant rocket” that the Germans were devising to destroy London. Most experts declared similar weapons a scientific impossibility, but between 1944 and 1945, more than a thousand of these rockets exploded down on British soil, killing nearly 3,000 people and injuring another 6,000. Hitler’s Rockets tells the story of this technically brilliant but morally detestable weapon, the ancestor and forerunner of all subsequent ballistic missiles. An absorbing story of war and science, this is the kind of serious history that entertains like the best kind of fiction.

The struggle of British, Commonwealth and American-Chinese troops against the Japanese in Burma was one of the decisive campaigns of the Second World War. British India was threatened by the Japanese advance, the fate of the British Empire in the East hung in the balance. The tropical climate – dense malarial jungle infested with vermin and swept by monsoon rains – made the fighting, for both sides, a remarkable feat of arms. Yet the war in Burma rarely receives the attention it deserves. Roy C. Nesbit, in this highly illustrated account, traces the entire course of the campaign. In vivid detail he describes the British retreat and humiliation at the hands of the Japanese invaders in 1942. The Japanese were fanatical and trained in jungle warfare, well-equipped and backed with an overwhelming air power. The Allied response was to build up their forces on a massive scale – eventually over 1,300,000 personnel were involved – and to train them to fight in the jungle conditions. Their counter-offensive, launched in 1944, culminated in the battles at Imphal and Kohima which turned the course of the conflict, and the reconquest of Burma was achieved just before the atom bomb was dropped.

In November 1939, the Nazis used the so-called Venlo Incident as a pretext for invading the Netherlands. Following orders from Himmler, two British intelligence officers, Sigismund Payne Best and Richard Stevens, were captured from the Café Backus in the town of Venlo. Best had been trying to contact German officers plotting against Hitler. The Netherlands had been an ideal ground for operations, because of its proximity to Germany and the fact that Dutch Intelligence was badly funded. When Best met the three agents including Walter Schellenberg he was carrying with him a list of British agents who were working in Europe. When he arrived at the café, which was just over the Dutch border, he realised he had walked into a trap. A Dutch intelligence officer who accompanied them, Dirk Klop, was fatally wounded. Best and Stevens were taken into Germany. After their Berlin interrogation and torture they were taken to the notorious Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Hitler used the incident together with the Elser bomb plot as an excuse for war with the Netherlands, claiming their involvement with Britain violated their neutrality. As Nigel Jones explains, the incident was crucial in making the British suspicious of dealings with anti-Hitler resistance.

When the Second World War broke out, stitched items suddenly became absolutely vital. A massive production of uniforms and stitched equipment took over factories and raw materials while in the home every scrap of thread was utilised. The stories in these pages are of weddings; parachute drops in the dead of night into enemy territory; lice and mud in the trenches; and, regimental insignia embroidered onto pyjamas until the men came home and secret stitched hidden from brutal guards. This gripping and unusual history offers a glimpse into the courage, endurance, ingenuity and skill of the men, women and children who struggled to survive wartime conditions at home and overseas, and through the hard years of rationing which followed.

The Anglo-American battle for the Geilenkirchen salient in November 1944 was infantry warfare at its worst, and it is described in vivid detail in this new edition of Ken Ford’s classic study. The onset of winter saw the Allied advance from the Normandy beaches forced to a halt on Germany’s doorstep. The clock had been put back to the days of the Great :huh:War – the Allies had arrived at the Siegfried Line and were forced to attack the fortifications from the hell of the trenches. Geilenkirchen was the first battle on German soil to be fought by the British since Minden in 1759. For them, it was just one more battle on the way to Berlin, but for the American 84th Division, it was a first faltering step into war and a bitter lesson in the attrition and savagery of combat. The story is told by the men who were there – the British, the Americans, and the Germans who were fighting desperately for their homeland. Neither side was victorious - both lost more men than they could afford and paid a heavy price in young lives for a few miles of ground.

Never before have the diaries and letters of young people from all sides of World War Two been woven together to provide an account of what it was like to grow up amidst the daily struggles and horrors of this devastating war. We Were Young And At War follows the stories of sixteen teenage boys and girls who write with a disarming directness about their reactions to and experiences of a very adult war. They are British, French, American, Japanese, Polish, German and Russian, each with a unique and heart-rending tale to tell. Only two of them are alive today. Some of them fought and died in the war, others starved to death; many were separated from their families. All were forced to grow up quickly, their lives changed beyond all recognition by their experiences. This is their story.

Hitler's panzer armies spearheaded the blitzkrieg on the Eastern Front. They played a key role in every major campaign, not simply as tactical tools but also as operational weapons that shaped strategy. Their extraordinary triumphs and their eventual defeat mirrors the fate of German forces in the East. And yet no previous study has concentrated on the history of these elite formations in the bitter struggle against the Soviet Union. Robert Kirchubel's absorbing and meticulously researched account of the operational history of the panzer armies fills this gap in the literature. And it gives a graphic insight into the organization, tactics, fighting methods and morale of the Wehrmacht at the height of its powers and as it struggled to defend the Reich. Using German sources, including many first-hand accounts seen for the first time in English, the author reconstructs the operations of the panzer armies from the launch of Operation Barbarossa in 1941 to the German collapse in May 1945. He follows each army and its men through the series of massive offensives and counteroffensives that swung across a vast front that stretched from the Baltic in the north to the Caucasus in the south. Their far-reaching campaigns included the ill-fated assault on Moscow, anti-partisan operations in the Balkans and the defense of Germany¹s Fatherland. His study is a valuable addition to the history of the Nazi-Soviet conflict and to understanding the part played by armoured formations in the world war as a whole. It is absorbing reading.

This book brings together a wealth of black and white pictures which together record not only the operations of the Women's Land Army (WLA) but also scenes of the countryside between 1939 and 1950. Drawn from the worldwide albums of many ex-land girls at a time when film was rationed and photography monitored, this collection offers a fascinating insight into the people and places associated with the WLA. Many of these photographs have never been published in book form and so offer a unique record of the organisation. Every image is captioned, providing names and dates where possible, and revealing historical anecdotal detail which gives life to the scenes and personalities captured through the camera lens. Presenting training, occupations and the social activities of the Land Army women, this absorbing collection will not only evoke many wartime memories, but will also inspire readers through these images of hope, strength and unity.

Leslie Illingworth was one of the most distinguished British political cartoonists of the 20th century and remains for many 'the cartoonists' cartoonist. Yet though his career spanned more than 50 years - longer than either of his great contemporaries Sir David Low and Vicky - very little has been published about his life and works. Some of Illingworth's best cartoons were published for the "Daily Mail" during the Second World War (examples were even found in Hitler's bunker) and this book collects together for the first time 100 of his greatest to mark the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the conflict. Illingworth joined the "Daily Mail" soon after the war started, and remained with the paper for 30 years. A superb draughtsman and an acute political commentator, he also drew weekly for "Punch" for two decades. The magazine's editor Malcolm Muggeridge even felt that his cartoons were better than Low's: 'Illingworth's go deeper, becoming, at their best, satire in the grand style rather than mischievous quips'. A student under Sir William Rothenstein at the Royal College of Art during one of its most brilliant periods - fellow students included Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Eric Ravilious - he left to become full-time political cartoonist on Wales' national paper, the Western Mail, at the age of only 19. A founding member and the first President of the British Cartoonists' Association in 1966, he was made an Honorary Doctor of Literature by the University of Kent in 1975. In addition he drew for American publications - including a famous cover for "Time" magazine - and was officially presented to US President L.B. Johnson in 1968. This unique collection is divided into chapters covering the war year-by-year and the book draws extensively on archive material held at the National Library of Wales and only recently catalogued in association with the British Cartoon Archive at the University of Kent. It also contains the first biography of Illingworth based on unique access to hitherto unavailable family records.

This is the story of the British soldier in the Second World War; a story of endurance through the long years of conflict, in theatres as diverse as Europe, the Western Desert, the Arctic and the Far East. It is the real story of the British Tommy, truthful and unglorified. Beginning on the road to Dunkirk, Peter Doyle traces the life of the British Soldier from 1939 through the development of Fortress Britain and the rearming of troops to open the ‘Second Front’ in Europe. With reference to military equipment, literature, art and ephemera, he conjures an image of what it was like to serve in the British Army during this gruelling war. He tells how troops would fight in the desert, on the long road that led to victory in Alamein, and of the battles against the Japanese in the Far East.

Ted Stocker lived a charmed life. Trained at RAF Halton as one of Trenchard's 'Brats', a posting to Boscombe Down saw him fly in both the prototype Stirling and Halifax just as war engulfed Europe for the second time. Qualifying as one of the RAF's first flight engineers, he flew operations in 1941/42 with 35 and 102 Squadrons, a contemporary of Leonard Cheshire, helping with the often hair-raising task of converting pilots from two to four engines. On his return to 35, he became a pathfinder and flight engineer leader, taking part in virtually every major air battle of the war. Awarded the DFC in 1943, he was posted to 7 and then 582 Squadrons, going on to complete more than 100 bombing operations , often as a master bomber, and flying with some of the pathfinder 'greats', including Don Bennett himself. Although his aircraft was frequently hit, and he survived a crash landing on only his second trip, Ted was never wounded. His achievements were recognised with the Distinguished Service Order, the only known DSO issued to a flight engineer during the war or since. After the war, he flew with Bomber Harris on a tour of Brazil and later qualified as a pilot, introducing the Lockheed Neptune anti-submarine aircraft to the RAF for the first time as a flight commander with Coastal Command.

Des Curtis was one of the founder members of 618 Squadron. Formed within days of the illustrious 617, 618's primary objective was to mount a daylight low-level attack by Mosquitos on the German battleship Tirpitz within hours of the attack on the Ruhr dams. The operation, codenamed Operation Servant, was given top security classification, to the point where the subject was excluded from the minutes of the meetings of the Chiefs of Staff of the air and naval forces. The author reveals the dilemmas and conflicting priorities existing to the highest levels, setting out in detail the technicalities of developing the 'bouncing bomb'. He also writes first hand about the tactical problems of getting to and from the target; and the tensions and strains endured by the Mosquito crews themselves, as they took the war to the German U-Boats within the sight and safety of their bases.

This guide book covers the present-day battlefield, and the actions that took place on and immediately behind the D-Day beaches, and Major and Mrs Holt's Pocket Guide to Normandy has been put together to take you around the area. This book, part of a new series of guides, is designed conveniently in a small size, for those who have only limited time to visit, or who are simply interested in as an introduction to the historic battlefields, whether on the ground or from an armchair. They contain selections from the Holts' more detailed guide of the most popular and accessible sites plus handy tourist information, capturing the essential features of the Battles. The book contains many full colour maps and photographs and detailed instructions on what to see and where to visit.

The true story of the 41,000 British soldiers who were left behind after the evacuation of Dunkirk, May 1940. At 2am on the morning of the 3rd of June 1940, General Harold Alexander searched along the quayside, holding onto his megaphone and called “Is anyone there? Is anyone there?” before turning his boat back towards England. Tradition tells us that the dramatic events of the evacuation of Dunkirk, in which 300,000 BEF servicemen escaped the Nazis, was a victory gained from the jaws of defeat. For the first time, rather than telling the tale of the 300,000 who escaped, Sean Longden reveals the story of the 40,000 men sacrificed in the rearguard battles.

It took the Japanese fleet twenty-two days to sail from Japan to Pearl Harbor, the same twenty-two days that witnessed the German assault on Moscow and the Crusader battles in North Africa. The Germans failed to knock the Soviets out; the Japanese succeeded in bringing the Americans in. These twenty-two days sealed their mutual fate. With each chapter structured around one of the twenty-two days leading up to Pearl Harbor, Sealing Their Fate narrates the battles, the preparations for battle, the diplomatic manoeuvres and the intelligence wars. The story shifts from snowbound Russian villages to the stormy northern Pacific, from the North African desert to Europe's warring capitals, and from Tokyo to Washington. The book features a host of ordinary soldiers, sailors and airmen, and those political and military figures who played a key role in the war. Taking the momentum of the Japanese fleet, Sealing Their Fate works as an exciting countdown. Other countdowns - the gradual halting of the German advance in Russia, the erosion of Rommel's resources in North Africa, the institutionalization of the Holocaust - is worked into this basic structure.As Winston Churchill memorably remarked 'Hitler's fate was sealed. Mussolini's fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they would be ground to powder. All the rest was merely the proper application of overwhelming force.'

For the first four months of 1942, U.S., Filipino, and Japanese soldiers fought what was America's first major land battle of World War II, the battle for the tiny Philippine peninsula of Bataan. It ended with the surrender of 76,000 Filipinos and Americans, the single largest defeat in American military history. The defeat, though, was only the beginning, as Michael and Elizabeth M. Norman make dramatically clear in this powerfully original book. From then until the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, the prisoners of war suffered an ordeal of unparalleled cruelty and savagery: forty-one months of captivity, starvation rations, dehydration, hard labor, deadly disease, and torture - far from the machinations of General Douglas MacArthur. The Normans bring to the story remarkable feats of reportage and literary empathy. Their protagonist, Ben Steele, is a figure out of Hemingway: a young cowboy turned sketch artist from Montana who joined the army to see the world. Juxtaposed against Steele's story and the sobering tale of the Death March and its aftermath is the story of a number of Japanese soldiers. The result is an altogether new and original World War II book: it exposes the myths of military heroism as shallow and inadequate; it makes clear, with great literary and human power, that war causes suffering for people on all sides.

Although African Americans had to strive against prejudice for every chance to show what they could achieve, in fact the wartime US Army conceded opportunities for leadership unparalleled in American civil society at that date and tens of thousands of African Americans contributed to the war effort. Fully illustrated with poignant photographs and especially commissioned artwork, this book will depict the variety of key roles that African Americans played from fighter pilots to tank crews to grunts on the ground in every combat theatre from Europe to the Pacific. "Elite 158 African American Troops in World War II" is a concise history of the service records and combat experience of the African American troops who rose above discrimination to fight for the Allied cause and paved the way for integrated armed forces.

The French resistance to Nazi occupation during World War II was a struggle in which ordinary people fought for their liberty, despite terrible odds and horrifying repression. Hundreds of thousands of Frenchmen and women carried out an armed struggle against the Nazis, producing underground anti-fascist publications and supplying the Allies with vital intelligence. Based on hundreds of French eye-witness accounts and including recently-released archival material, The Resistance uses dramatic personal stories to take the reader on one of the great adventures of the 20th century. The tale begins with the catastrophic Fall of France in 1940, and shatters the myth of a unified Resistance created by General de Gaulle. In fact, De Gaulle never understood the Resistance, and sought to use, dominate and channel it to his own ends. Brave men and women set up organisations, only to be betrayed or hunted down by the Nazis, and to die in front of the firing squad or in the concentration camps. Over time, the true story of the Resistance got blurred and distorted, its heroes and conflicts were forgotten as the movement became a myth. By turns exciting, tragic and insightful, The Resistance reveals how one of the most powerful modern myths came to be forged and provides a gripping account of one of the most striking events in the 20th century.

By the laws of statistics John Lowry should not be here today to tell his story. He firmly believes that someone somewhere was looking after him during those four years. Examine the odds stacked against him and his readers will understand why he hold this view. During the conflict in Malaya and Singapore his regiment lost two thirds of its men. More than three hundred patients and staff in the Alexandria Military hospital were slaughtered by the Japanese - he was the only known survivor. Twenty six percent of British soldiers slaving on the Burma Railway died. More than fifty men out of around six hundred died aboard the Alaska Maru and the Hakasan Maru. Many more did not manage to survive the harshest Japanese winter of 1944/45, the coldest in Japan since record began. John's experiences make for the most compelling and graphic reading. The courage, endurance and resilience of men like him never ceases to amaze.

With the outbreak of World War II, Britain's Royal Navy and her fleet of battleships would be at the forefront of her defence. Yet ten of the 12 battleships were already over 20 years old, having served in World War I, and required extensive modifications to allow them to perform a vital service throughout the six long years of conflict. This title offers a comprehensive review of the development of these British battleships from their initial commissioning to their peacetime modifications and wartime service, with detailed descriptions of the effectiveness of the main armament of individual ships. With specially commissioned artwork and a dramatic re-telling of key battleship conflicts, this book will highlight what it was like on board for the sailors who risked their lives on the high seas.

This work presents the definitive visual history of the people, politics and events of the epic conflict that shaped the modern world, World War II. From the build-up of hostility in the years leading up to the war, through to the reverberations still felt in the aftermath, this is a compelling, accessible and immediate history of World War II. Discover how deep-seated local fears and hatreds escalated into one vast global conflict that was fought out to the bitter end. Find out about key battles, political and economic forces, individual leaders and technological advances that influenced the course of the war. Cross-referencing appears throughout and timelines and global maps establish an overview of each year of the conflict. Packed with images, including rarely seen colour photographs and unforgettable first person accounts, "World War II" is a uniquely accessible account of history's most devastating conflict.

Defeated and occupied in 1939, Poland had suffered under the Nazi heel for nearly five years. Undaunted, however, the Poles formed an underground army, the Armia Krajowa (Home Army), and waited for a moment of German weakness. That moment seemed to have arrived in July 1944 as the Soviet armies began to advance into eastern Poland. The AK launched its revolt in Warsaw on 1 August 1944. Though its 5,000 fighters achieved some initial successes, the Germans were able to retain control over both the Vistula River bridges and the airbase, dooming the revolt to isolation and defeat. The SS was put in charge of suppressing the rebellion, beginning a wave of atrocities shocking even by Eastern Front standards.

When the Germans launched their offensive on 10 May, the BEF advanced to the River Dyle in Belgium. Within days the Allied Armies had been forced onto the back foot by the speed and ferocity of the German breakthrough. The Norfolks withdrew to the River Escaut where the BEF was to make a stand. On 21 May, the Company Sergeant Major George Gristock courageously destroyed some German machine-gun posts and won a posthumous Victoria Cross. As the Allies withdrew towards the Channel, the Norfolks were ordered to defend a section of the Canal Line between Béthune and Le Cornet Malo. Already down to around half strength, the Norfolks held their sector from 24 to 27 May. By the time the order was issued for them to withdraw, it was too late, Battalion HQ at Duries Farm, Le Paradis was surrounded and they had no alternative but to surrender, although `C' Company held out until the following morning. After the surrender, ninety-nine men of the Battalion were marched to a paddock where they were machine-gunned in cold blood by their SS captors. Miraculously, two men survived and were instrumental in bringing the SS officer responsible, Fritz Knoechlien, to justice after the war. When the remnants of the battalion reassembled in England, its strength was just five officers and 134 other ranks. The remainder had either been killed or captured as POWs.

Published to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Normandy Landings, "The D-Day Companion" book brings together the perspectives and opinions of leading military historians from both sides of the Atlantic. Operation Overlord saw the Allied Generals Eisenhower and Montgomery pit their wits against Hitler in a bold bid to liberate continental Europe. Featuring a foreword by Major Richard Winters, real-life commander of Easy Company as featured in Stephen E Ambrose's "Band of Brothers", this is a unique and incisive examination of the momentous events that surrounded June 6, 1944. Each chapter of this book focuses on a different aspect of the D-Day landings, from the build-up to the attack to the experiences of the troops on the ground.

One of the most remarkable episodes of WWII was the Nazi attempt to forge currency and trigger the economic collapse of the Allies. The counterfeit operation was one of the largest the world has ever seen and lead to the postwar reissue of sterling. At the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin, 144 Jewish prisoners of 13 different nationalities were forced to work on producing counterfeit pound and dollar notes worth billions. The plan was known as Operation Bernhard. The forgeries that were produced were virtually undetectable: only the most senior forgers were able to spot fakes, where even the Bank of England failed to do so. In this extraordinary memoir, the sole surviving Czech counterfeiter Adolf Burger describes his wartime experiences, including the murder of his wife Gizela in Auschwtiz and his time as a prisoner in four concentration camps. He was working as a counterfeiter until his liberation from the Ebensee camp on 5 May 1945 and was present at Toplitzee lake on July 5th 2000 when thousands of forged notes were brought to the surface. Supported by hitherto unseen documentation and photographs that Burger took of his fellow prisoners after the war, this is a shocking account which sheds fresh light on the calculated barbarity of the Nazi war machine. Adolf Burger was a consultant for the film The Counterfeiters, winner of the 2008 Foreign Language Oscar. His memoir has been published in Hungarian, Persian, Japanese and Czech. He continues to travel to speak about his wartime experiences.

Count Folke Bernadotte was one of those rare figures in war - a man trusted by both sides alike. Shortly before the war ended, Bernadotte was the leader of a rescue operation to transfer western European inmates to Swedish hospitals in the so-called 'White Buses'. This work through the Swedish Red Cross involved mercy missions to Germany and it was through this link that Bernadotte came into touch with prominent Nazi leaders in the 1940s. During the last months of the war, Bernadotte was introduced to Heinrich Himmler - one of the most sinister men of the Third Reich. Bernadotte was asked by Himmler to approach the Allies with the proposal of a complete surrender to Britain and the US - providing Germany could continue to fight the Soviet Union. The offer was passed to Winston Churchill and Harry Truman, but rejected. The course of these negotiations is narrated in this book with a simple, compelling clarity and thrilling immediacy. This new edition of Bernadotte's memoir includes a Preface by his two sons, and an Introduction by a leading Swedish author discussing Count Bernadotte's wartime record and his post-war assassination.

Using official records from the National Archives personal accounts from the Imperial War Museum and other sources, Coastal Convoys 1939 - 1945: The Indestructible Highway describes Britain's dependence on coastal shipping and the introduction of the convoy system in coastal waters at the outset of the war. It beings to life the hazards of the German mining offensive of 1939, the desperate battles fought in coastal waters during 1940 and 1941, and the long struggle against German air and naval forces which lasted to the end of the Second World War. Reference is also made to the important role played by coasters during the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 and the Normandy landings in 1944.

A hero from the Great War he saw active service in Russia in 1919 - 20 and against the Pathans on the North West Frontier in 1935. By 1940 Alexander was a divisional commander with the BEF in France. His conduct during the withdrawal through Dunkirk where he took over the British 1st Corps in the crisis confirmed his outstanding ability. In the dark days of 1942 by now a full general he was sent to Burma with orders to hold the Japs at Rangoon. Just in time he realised this was impossible and his decision to withdraw prevented a total disaster. Despite this defeat he retained Churchill's confidence and he was appointed C in C Middle East. While eclipsed in PR terms by his subordinate Montgomery many felt that Monty owed his success to Alexander by protecting him from an increasingly impatient Churchill. Alexander went onto commanded the invasion of Sicily and as Army Group Commander masterminded the long slog up through Italy. His charm and easy nature were his greatest strengths as others worked enthusiastically with him. But critics have sought to prove that he lacked true ability and steel.

As the West finds itself embroiled in conflict with radical Islam at home and abroad it is fascinating to hear the echoes of militant Islam from the Second World War, and the Nazis attempt to preach 'Jihad' against the British Empire and Stalin. Hitler's Jihadis tells the story of the tens of thousands of Muslims, from as far away as India who volunteered to wear the SS double lightning flashes and serve alongside their erstwhile conquerors. Jonathan Trigg gives insight into the pre-war politics that inspired these Islamic volunteers, who for the most part did not survive. Those who did survive the war and the bloody retribution that followed saw the reputation of the units in which they served in berated as militarily inept and castigated for atrocities against unarmed civilians. Using first hand accounts and official records Hitler's Jihadis peels away the propaganda to reveal the complexity that lies at the heart of the story of Hitler s most unlikely 'Aryans'.

On average a Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent would be dead within three months of being parachuted into action. Terry Crowdy tells the extraordinary story of these agents, some of whom were women as young as 22, following them through their experiences beginning with their recruitment and their unorthodox training methods, which included hand-to-hand combat and parachuting. Packed with photographs and full-colour artwork, this book recounts the incredible combat missions of the SOE agents from their role in the attacks on a heavy water plant in Norway, to operations in the field with Yugoslav and Greek partisans, as well as sabotage missions ranging from blowing up bridges to the raising of full-scale partisan armies as they attempted to fulfill Churchill's directive to set occupied Europe ablaze.

The Second World War was a defining experience in British history. It shaped us, made us what we are, and we are still fascinated by it. And one of the most extraordinary aspects of this unique war was the effect it had on crime - and this is the focus of M.J. Trow's compelling survey. He does not write solely about servicemen who committed crime - although there were many of them - and he does not celebrate heroes. On the contrary, his account highlights the unheroic, the weak and the corrupt. And it draws attention to something perhaps uniquely British - the will of the people to cope, be it housewives with rationing, the police with the black market or magistrates all too aware that 'careless talk costs lives'. The war may have been Britain's finest hour, but during it there were many dark moments which M.J. Trow explores in his intriguing study.

Except for the strength of the U-boat fleet at the height of the Battle of the Atlantic, the German Navy, or Kriegsmarine, was never a match for the Royal Navy, even though the latter was overstretched and fighting in the Atlantic, Pacific, the Mediterranean and the Arctic. It was not meant to be that way. Hitler and his naval staff had a vision for a large and well-balanced fleet, including aircraft carriers. PLAN Z was the name given for the massive fleet that Germany intended to build, However the Plan relied on the outbreak of the war not occurring at least until 1942. This book examines the way in which such a fleet could have influenced the major battles between the Royal Navy and the Germans. Plan Z starts by looking at Germany's history and ambitions as a maritime power. The relationships between the three armed forces and between them and the Fuhrer are also examined, along with the country's economic and industrial position.

From General Yamashita's blistering capture of Singapore in early 1942 to the final decisive victory by General Slim at Rangoon four years later, this scintillating account of war in Asia analyses the effectiveness of the Japanese, British and American commanders who lead their forces in defeat and victory during the longest continuous campaign of the Second World War. In "The Generals", Robert Lyman looks at the role of the generals on both sides of the conflict and analyses their influence on the desperate struggle between both sides in what the British describe as 'the Forgotten War'. The ability of a general to inspire and motivate his men, and lead them to success, was crucial for victory but it took several years before the British were able to field leaders of the calibre necessary to defeat the Japanese.The personality of each commander had a direct impact on the outcome of battles, the formulation of strategy and the determination or otherwise of soldiers to fight to the bitter end.

Through the stories of Yamashita, Perceval, Hutton, Irwin, Mountbatten, Stilwell, Mutaguchi and Slim, Lyman tells the gripping story of the war in the Far East through the perspective of the command and leadership abilities of the men who were responsible for the deployment of many hundreds of thousands of men in the titanic struggle for mastery in Asia during the Second World War.

This is the adrenaline-soaked story of nine men who fought the Japanese from America's deadliest submarine, survived its sinking and endured months of brutal torture in captivity.By October 1944, the US Navy submarine Tang was legendary - she had sunk more enemy ships, rescued more downed airmen and pulled off more daring surface attacks than any other Allied submarine in the Pacific. And then, on her fifth patrol, tragedy struck - the Tang was hit by one of her own faulty torpedoes. The survivors of the explosion struggled to stay alive in their submerged "iron coffin" one hundred and eighty feet beneath the surface. While the Japanese dropped deadly depth charges, just nine of the original eighty-man crew survived a harrowing ascent through the escape hatch.But a far greater ordeal was coming. After being picked up by a Japanese patrol vessel, they were sent to a secret Japanese interrogation camp known as the "Torture Farm". They were close to death when finally liberated in August 1945, but they had revealed nothing to the Japanese - not even the greatest secret of World War II.

Following a lull in the desert war which saw the Germans and British reinforce their armies, Rommel suddenly attacked British fortifications with an assault on the northern sector of the British line near Gazala. Pinning down the British in the north and outflanking the 1st Free French Brigade, Rommel succeeded in encircling the main British positions, trapping them in what became known as 'The Cauldron'. With thousands of British soldiers killed or taken prisoner, this was a devastating defeat for the Allies. Accompanied by contemporary photographs and maps depicting the movement of both armies, Ken Ford provides a masterful study of Rommel, the "Desert Fox", at the height of his powers as he swept the British army back to the site of their final stand at El Alamein.

At 2 am on the morning of the 3rd of June 1940, General Harold Alexander searched along the quayside, holding onto his megaphone and called "Is anyone there? Is anyone there?" before turning his boat back towards England. For the first time, rather than telling the tale of the 300,000 who escaped, Sean Longden reveals the story of the 40,000 men sacrificed in the rearguard battles. On the beaches and sand dunes, besides the roads and amidst the ruins lay the corpses of hundreds who had not reached the boats. Elsewhere, hospitals full of the sick and wounded who had been left behind to receive treatment from the enemy's doctors. And further afield - still fighting hard alongside their French allies - was the entire 51st Highland Division, whose war had not finished as the last boats slipped away. Also scattered across the countryside were hundreds of lost and lonely soldiers. These 'evaders' had also missed the boats and were now desperately trying to make their own way home, either by walking across France or rowing across the channel. The majority, however, were now prisoners of war who were forced to walk on the death marches all the way to the camps in Germany and Poland, where they were forgotten until 1945.

At a time when the West seems ever more eager to call on military aggression as a means of securing international peace, Nicholson Baker's provocative narrative exploring the political misjudgements and personal biases that gave birth to the terrifying consequences of the Second World War could not be more pertinent. With original and controversial insights brought about by meticulous research, Human Smoke re-evaluates the political turning points that led up to war and in so doing challenges some of the treasured myths we hold about how war came about and how atrocities like the Holocaust were able to happen. Baker reminds us, for instance, not to forget that it was thanks in great part to Churchill and England that Mussolini ascended to power so quickly, and that, before leading the United States against Nazi Germany, a young FDR spent much of his time lobbying for a restriction in the number of Jews admitted to Harvard.Conversely, Human Smoke also reminds us of those who had the foresight to anticipate the coming bloodshed and the courage to oppose the tide of history, as Gandhi demonstrated when he made his symbolic walk to the ocean - for which he was immediately imprisoned by the British.

The Macedonian Question - the struggle for control over a territory with historically ill-defined borders and conflicting national identities - is one of the most intractable problems in modern Balkan history. In this lucid and persuasive study, Dimitris Livanios explores the British dimension to the Macedonian Question from the outbreak of the Second World War to the aftermath of the Tito-Stalin split. Investigating British policy towards the Bulgar-Yugoslav controversy over Macedonia, the author assesses the impact of British actions and strategy during this period, with a particular focus on wartime planning concerning the future of Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, and attempts to prevent Tito from creating a federation of the South Slavs, both during and after the war. Making extensive use of British archives, Livanios brings to light important documentary evidence to offer a fresh perspective on the emergence of the federal Macedonian unit within Tito's Yugoslavia, and on the efforts to create a functioning Macedonian national ideology.

Soviet bombers played a vital role in defeating the Germans on the Eastern Front, yet their contribution is often forgotten. This graphic memoir should help to set the record straight. The author, a leading Soviet bomber pilot who flew throughout the conflict, tells his story from the desperate days of the German assault in 1941 to the point where Germany was invaded and the Nazis were destroyed. He gives a vivid account of his experiences during over 300 bombing missions in the dangerous skies over Russia, the Ukraine, Poland and Germany. His story is compelling reading.

Ultra was the code word for the method by which the Allies intercepted the German radio transmissions and broke their coded contents during World War II. The author, himself a former field artilery officer with the Eighth Army from Alamein to Tunisia and then from Normandy to the end of the war in Germany, was the first historian to utilize Ultra intercepts to show how the information was used in combat. He was also the first historian to have interviewed the men, both British and American, who produced and used Ultra intercepts in the key positions of leadership throughout the war. The book highlights how Ultra helped to win the Battle of Britain and how its proper use might have prevented the Battle of the Bulge and the Allied defeat at Arnhem. Included too is a documented account of the destruction of Coventry, the reason for the American defeat at the Kasserine Pass and an account of how convoys carrying strategic war supplies to our Allies were decimated because the Germans had broken the Admiralty codes. Other works by Ronald Lewin include "Slim the Standard-Bearer", "The Life and Death of the Afrika Korps" and "Churchill as Warlord".

In Spring 1945, the outcome of the war was ritually certain but the mighty River Rhine still stood in the way of the Allies. Eisenhower's strategy was to guarantee a crossing in the Ruhr area by allocating the main effort to Montgomery's 21st Army Group. Monty's task was to envelope and take out the last German war production and open the way onto the North German Plain. On the morning of 24 March 1945, the Normandy veterans of 6th British Airborne Division were to land just three to six miles in front of XII Corps, within supporting distance of their artillery, with the aim of linking up with the ground forces on day one. First in were the two parachute brigades, who benefited from the numbing effect of the Allied bombardment but by the time 6th Airlanding Brigade came in aboard their gliders, the German anti-aircraft gunners were recovering and, on the DZs, resisting and even counter-attacking the British and Canadian paratroopers. Casualties were heavy, not least because the Airlanding Brigade were gliding in amidst an armoured kampfgruppe.

This book is a chronology of the "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" and the famous victory drive of the Seventh Army. It starts at the Worms' Rhine bridgehead and moves quickly onto Aschaffenburg, before describing the Hammelburg Raid to release US POWs. Driving South through Karlstadt, the Army seized crossing of the River Mainz at Wurzburg (which has a fine castle). The seizure of Nuremberg was hugely symbolic and this beautiful city was the scene both of the infamous Nazi Rallies and of course the War Crimes Tribunals. The road to Munich, always worth visiting (bierfest or no bierfest!) is via the Danube crossings and the book takes in the liberation of the appalling Dachau Concentration Camp and the battle at the SS Barracks. Munich was the centre of Hitler's early life and represented his powerbase. He was imprisoned here and wrote "Mein Kampf". The book climaxes with the approach to the Alps and the superb Eagle's Nest, so popular with tourists.

From the moment he was shot down to the final whistle, Jimmy James' one aim as a POW of the Germans was to escape. The Great Escaper describes his experiences and those of his fellow prisoners in the most gripping and thrilling manner. The author made more than 12 escape attempts including his participation in The Great Escape, where 50 of the 76 escapees were executed in cold blood on Hitler's orders. On re-capture, James was sent to the infamous Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp where, undeterred, he tunnelled out. That was not the end of his remarkable story. Moonless Night has strong claim to be the finest escape story of the Second World War.

On 25 September 1939 Melvin Young reported to No.1 Initial Training Unit. He was selected as a bomber pilot and promoted to Flying Officer. Having undertaken a Lancaster conversion course Melvin and his new crew were posted to 57 Squadron at Scampton - soon to become 617 Squadron. On 15 May the Order for Operation Chastise was issued - the raid to be flown the next night, 16/17 May. The plan for the operation was that three waves of aircraft would be employed. The first wave of nine aircraft, led by Gibson, would first attack the Mohne Dam, then the Eder followed by other targets as directed by wireless from 5 Group HQ if any weapons were still available. This wave would fly in three sections of three aircraft about ten minutes apart led by Guy Gibson, Melvin Young and Henry Maudslay. At 00.43 Melvin and his crew made their attempt on the Mohne dam. Gibson recorded that Young's weapon made 'three good bounces and contact'.Once the dam had been breached Gibson with Melvin as his deputy led the three remaining armed aircraft towards the Eder Dam. On the return trip Melvin Young and his crew fell victim to enemy guns.

Irish neutrality during the Second World War presented Britain with significant challenges to its security. Exploring how British agencies identified and addressed these problems, this book reveals how Britain simultaneously planned sabotage in and spied on Ireland, and at times sought to damage the neutral state's reputation internationally through black propaganda operations. It analyses the extent of British knowledge of Axis and other diplomatic missions in Ireland, and shows the crucial role of diplomatic code-breaking in shaping British policy. The book also underlines just how much Ireland both interested and irritated Churchill throughout the war. Rather than viewing this as a uniquely Anglo-Irish experience, Eunan O'Halpin argues that British activities concerning Ireland should be placed in the wider context of intelligence and security problems that Britain faced in other neutral states, particularly Afghanistan and Persia. Taking a comparative approach, he illuminates how Britain dealt with challenges in these countries through a combination of diplomacy, covert gathering of intelligence, propaganda, and intimidation.The British perspective on issues in Ireland becomes far clearer when discussed in terms of similar problems Britain faced with neutral states worldwide.

A powerful, detailed and warming story of the Second World War - told through the previously unheard voices of those (such as Nella Last) who described the home front for the Mass Observation project. Jerry is certainly not getting any change out of us'. For six years the people of Britain endured bombs and the threat of invasion, and more than 140,000 civilians were killed or seriously wounded. Men and women were called to serve in the armed forces in record numbers, and everyone experienced air raids and rationing. In these terrible times, volunteers of almost every age, class and occupation wrote diaries for the "Mass Observation" project, which was set up in the 1930s to collect the voices of ordinary men and women. Using many diaries that have never been published before, this book tells the story of the war - the military conflict, and, mainly, life on the home front - through these voices. Through it all, people carry on living their lives, falling in love, longing for a good meal, complaining about office colleagues or mourning allotment potatoes destroyed by a bomb.

In the last days of July 1943, British and American planes dropped 9,000 tons of bombs on Hamburg with the intention of erasing the German city from the map. The resultant firestorm burned for a month and left 40,000 civilians dead. Inferno is a searing account of terrifying destruction: of how and why the Allies dropped a hail of high-explosive and incendiary bombs; of blizzards of sparks, hurricane-force winds and 800-degree temperatures; of survivors cowering in basements or struggling along melting streets; of a city and its people near annihilated from above.

Compiled by one of the worlds leading experts on the subject of the air war over the Eastern Front, Christer Bergström, Kursk: The Air Battle, is the third in a series of books covering the major phases of the air war in this theatre of operations. It will be required reading for all historians of the Luftwaffe during World War 2 and those with a specific interest in the Eastern Front in particular. The German Kursk offensive, Operation Zitadelle, was launched on 4 July 1943. Strong Soviet defence ensured that the Germans failed to make their planned breakthrough and, after three weeks, defence was turned to attack by the Soviets, as two counter-attacks saw the Red Army seize the initiative and ultimately force the Germans to retreat. During the month of August, Soviet forces recaptured strategic cities such as Oryol, Belgorod and Kharkov. This book provides a detailed history of the air battles where were a part of this operation. To date, no single study has been written in English on the air aspects of the battle in which, literally, thousands of aircraft were pitted against each other. The strength of the authors writing lies in its detail, his ability to tell the story from the viewpoints of both sides and from both strategic and tactical contexts. There is also much unique eye-witness material and the text will be accompanied by a large number of rate and previously unpublished photographs, biography boxes, plus data tables, technical assessments and appendices.

This is the second book in a series of ten titles using the successful and visually appealing format of the Classic Colours series to examine the German Panzer force from its origins in the immediate post- World War One years through to the end of World War Two. This book describes the continuing Blitzkrieg campaigns of 1940 with the German invasions of Norway and Denmark and the later attack on the Low Countries and France. The narrative text, written by Mark Healy, an authority on German armoured warfare in World War Two, addresses the events of the year 1940.This witnessed the greatest triumph of the German tank arm in the campaign that saw France and the Low Countries vanquished in just six weeks. This was also the year which saw the overwhelming vindication of the armoured warfare tactics advocated by Guderian and his supporters throughout the 1930s. Following the French surrender, and certain in the conviction that he now had to hand a war-winning weapon, Hitler ordered the doubling of the strength of the Panzerwaffe in preparation for its greatest challenge in the summer of 1941. This volume covers all the following areas: Light divisions to Panzer Divisions the Panzerwaffe in the aftermath of the Polish campaign; Panzer operations in Denmark and Norway; the influx of new equipment - Panzerjäger, Sturmgeschütz, Schützenpanzerwagen and the first self-propelled artillery prior to the assualt on the west; the evolution of Case Yellow the attack in the West from October 1939 through to the launch and execution of the devastating armoured assault of May 1940; preparing the panzers for Sealion - the invasion of Britain; the doubling of the size of the Panzerwaffe.

Behind enemy lines is an examination of gender relations in wartime using the Special Operations Executive as a case study. Drawing on personal testimonies, in particular oral history and autobiography, as well as official records and film, it explores the extraordinary experiences of male and female agents who were recruited and trained by a British organisation and infiltrated into Nazi-Occupied France to encourage sabotage and subversion during the Second World War. With its original interpretation of a wealth of primary sources, it examines how these ordinary, law-abiding civilians were transformed into para-military secret agents, equipped with silent killing techniques and trained in unarmed combat. This fascinating, timely and engaging book is concerned with the ways in which the SOE veterans reconstruct their wartime experiences of recruitment, training, clandestine work and for some, their captivity, focusing specifically upon the significance of gender and their attempts to pass as French civilians.

Of the Allied generals who caught the headlines in the Middle East and Europe in WWII, two predominate - both achieved outstanding successes on the battlefield, both went out of their way to court the headlines and both made serious mistakes that attracted adverse publicity - their names were Bernard Montgomery and George S Patton, Jr - this book summarises and compares their lives and careers.

The German armoured divisions in the Second World War were the iron fist of the Blitzkrieg. Broken down by key battle or campaigns within each theatre of war, this book shows the strengths and organizational structures of the Third Reich's armoured forces campaign by campaign, building into a detailed compendium of information.With extensive organizational diagrams and full-colour campaign maps showing the disposition of units, this is an easy guide to the German panzer forces, their strengths during key campaigns and battles, and details of where they served throughout the war.

In 1942, with a black-market chicken under his arm, Leo Marks left his father's famous bookshop, 84 charing cross road, and went to war. He was twenty-two and a cryptographer of genius. In "Between silk and cyanide", his critically acclaimed account of his time in SOE, Marks tells how he revolutionized the code-making techniques of the Allies, trained some of the most famous agents, who dropped into France including Violette Szabo and 'the White Rabbit', and why he wrote haunting verses including his "The Life that I have" poem. He reveals for the first time the disastrous dimensions of the code war between SOE and the Germans in Holland; how the Germans were fooled into thinking a Secret Army was operating in the Fatherland itself; and how and why he broke General de Gaulle's secret code. Both thrilling and Poignant, Marks' book is truly one of the last great Second World War memoirs.

What was life really like in German-occupied France during the Second World War? Douglas Boyd paints the clearest picture yet, using hitherto unpublished first-person accounts of ordinary men and women who lived through this extraordinary and dangerous time, when a few made fortunes, but most went cold and hungry. Less than 1 per cent of the French was pro-German. Is it pure coincidence that the same percentage actively resisted the Germans despite knowing that, if caught, their husbands, wives and children were considered equally culpable under the brutal Teutonic principle of Sippenhaft - guilt by association? Using new, meticulously researched material, Douglas Boyd tells an enthralling and sometimes chilling narrative history of the Occupation, as lived by the French people. It is a record of great heroism and ultimate cruelty. Read it and ask yourself, 'How would I have reacted, living in Occupied France?' The answer may surprise you.

As the Pacific war escalated into the largest naval conflict in history the role of the carrier, the most revolutionary and formidable of all naval weapons, became the linchpin of American and Japanese naval strategy. Finally in 1942, across the huge expanses of the Pacific, these rival carriers found themselves locked in a death struggle as they duelled for dominance of this critical theatre of war. Exploring the four major carrier clashes of Coral Sea, Midway, Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz, this book dramatically reveals the experiences of the airmen and guncrews of the rival vessels as they battled for victory in a duel of skill, tenacity and guts.

Visions of Victory explores the views of eight leaders of the major powers of World War II - Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Chiang Kai-shek, Stalin, Churchill, de Gaulle, and Roosevelt. He compares their visions of the future in the event of victory. While the leaders primarily focused on fighting and winning the war, their decisions were often shaped by their aspirations for the future. What emerges is a startling picture of postwar worlds. After exterminating the Jews, Hitler intended for all Slavs to die so Germans could inhabit Eastern Europe. Mussolini and Hitler wanted extensive colonies in Africa. Churchill hoped for the re-emergence of British and French empires. De Gaulle wanted to annex the northwest corner of Italy. Stalin wanted to control Eastern Europe. Roosevelt's vision included establishing the United Nations. Weinberg's comparison of the individual portraits of the war-time leaders is a highly original and compelling study of history that might have been.

This text is an account of the battle of Hurtgen Forest on the German/Belgian border, in WW2, which ran from September 1944 to February 1945. Thirty thousand US soldiers were killed or wounded during this hellish battle. Thirty thousand American GIs were killed or wounded in the longest battle ever fought by the US Army - a battle that should never have been fought.

Contesting Home Defence makes a significant and original contribution to debates concerning the British home front in the Second World War. It asks whether the Home Guard was a site of social cohesion or of dissension, explores the competing claims made for it at the time, and traces how it has been remembered since. It argues that the Home Guard at once contributed to and challenged the notion of national unity: official rhetoric was inclusive but recruitment practices were selective – and contested. Left-wingers inspired by international anti-fascist movements trained Home Guards in unauthorised guerrilla techniques; women formed their own armed organisation, sometimes helped by defiant Home Guard commanders.

As in the campaign against Poland, it was the Luftwaffe that had perhaps the most important role. It won air superiority over the theatre of operations and was able to destroy much of the enemy's material before the army swept forward. This is the second volume in a new series that examines in detail the Luftwaffe's role in the battles of the Spring and Summer of 1940 and will be required reading for all aviation historians as well as those who model the aircraft of the period.

At the end of World War II, the man Adolf Hitler called "my loathsome nephew" changed his name and disappeared. The British born William Patrick Hitler, by then settled in the USA, remained anonymous. This title tells the story of David Gardner's search for Hitler, his discovery that he was dead and had had four sons. Those four sons established a pact that, in order for Adolf Hitler's genes to die with them, none of them would have children.

This book examines in detail the T-34, one of the most famous and successful vehicles in the history of armoured warfare. The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1940 to 1958 and was widely regarded as the world's best tank when the Soviet Union entered the Second World War, and although its armour and armament were surpassed by later WWII tanks, it is credited as the war's most effective and efficient and influential design.

"The Last of the Ten Fighter Boys" is intended to be both a prequel and a sequel to the chapter Jimmy wrote for "Ten Fighter Boys", filling in the 'missing pieces'. The book charts: his early life before the outbreak of war in 1939; the decisions he made; and, those that were made for him. He describes how an ordinary working class boy from Maidstone was propelled into the most extraordinary of situations, landing him in the thick of the action in the skies over Kent during the summer and autumn of 1940.

The rationing period during World War II is often described as a difficult time and yet also remembered nostalgically as a time of unity and good sacrifice. In fact, many of its rules and guidelines could still be applied today. "Make Do and Mend" focuses on clothes rationing, which was introduced in June 1940. With the nation's industrial output concentrated on the war effort, basic clothes were in short supply and high fashion was an unknown commodity. Adults were issued as little as 36 coupons a year to spend on clothes. But a man's suit could cost 22 coupons, a coat 16 and a lady's dress 11, so the need to recycle and be inventive with other materials became more and more necessary. The government issued the leaflets included in "Make Do and Mend" to advise on how best to avoid wasting valuable resources by recycling curtains into dresses and old sheets into underwear; in short how to 'make do and mend' rather than buying new clothes. Produced from original material held in archives, the leaflets are also a nostalgic showcase of 1940s' style, which makes them the perfect gift.

This is the compelling story of the 10,000 German and Austrian nationals who fled Nazi persecution to join the British in their fight against Hitler during the Second World War. Most were Jews but a significant number were political opponents of the Nazi regime and so-called 'degenerate artists'. They arrived in Britain between 1933 and 1939, and at the outbreak of war on 3 September 1939 became 'enemy aliens'. They volunteered to serve in the British forces, donned the King's uniform, swore allegiance to George VI and became affectionately known as 'the King's most loyal enemy aliens'. This compelling story includes previously unpublished interviews with veterans and an impressive selection of archive photographs, many of which are reproduced for the first time.

"We sailed for Canada in April 1945 on a Greek ship, the Nea Hellis. The crossing took three weeks all the while avoiding the torpedoes. There were over 1,000 war brides and children aboard as well as wounded soldiers going home." - Iris Rickets. 'Overpaid, over-sexed and over here' was the verdict of many British civilians of American and Canadian soldiers conscripted to Britain in the Second World War. Yet for thousands of young girls, the influx of handsome young military men meant flirting, 'walking out' - and falling in love. The result was over 48,000 hasty marriages to Canadian soldiers alone, and a mass emigration of British young women to northern America and across the globe in the 1940s. Historian Melynda Jarratt has painstakingly captured the incredible stories of young women - some say brave, some say foolish - who left their families and homes to move to a country thousands of miles away with a man they barely knew. Yet the ensuing decades brought happiness to many, and surviving women share their tales of love, family and starting again. For some brides, the outcome was a very different story, and the darker side of the crossings reveals astonishing accounts of infidelity, domestic violence, venereal disease and even bigamy. This incredible new history draws on archives, rare documents, medical records and key first-hand accounts to tell the amazing story of the war brides in their own words - and shows the love, passion, tragedy and spirit of adventure that thousands of British women experienced in a turbulent time.

This book centres around the huge air battles which took place over Stalingrad between August and November 1942 and the subsequent airlift operation in the winter of 1942/43 intended to relieve the German Sixth Army which was by then trapped in Stalingrad. It also covers the air war during the Russian counter-offensive in early 1943 where the Luftwaffe played a major role in saving the whole German Eastern Front from collapsing. The book contains much eye-witness material and the text is accompanied by a large number of rare and previously unpublished photographs, biographical inserts on some of the leading figures in the struggle, data tables, technical assessments and appendices.

This inspiring book draws from first-hand interviews, diaries and memoirs of those involved in the VE Day celebrations in 1945. It paints an enthralling picture of a day that marked the end of the war in Europe and the beginning of a new era. VE Day affected millions of people in countless ways. This book records a sample of those views, from both Britain and abroad, from civilians and service men and women, from the famous and the not-so-famous, in order to provide a moving story and a valuable social picture of the times. Mixed with humour as well as tragedy, rejoicing as well as sadness, regrets of the past and hopes for the future, "VE Day: The People's Story" is an inspiring record of one of the great turning points in history.

"Slim's Burma Boys" relates the personal experiences of men who fought the "Forgotten War" of the Burma campaign. Hill wanted his readers to know what it was like to be there and with this in mind he selected a variety of operations and events from B Company of the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Berkshire Regiment, which he commanded. He was one of the only men to survive the border crossing into Burma. The Company earned two Military Crosses, a Distinguished Conduct Medal, four Military Medals, and a mention in Despatches. Hill conveys the intensity of involvement in the action, experiencing the adrenaline rush as well as the fear and courage of those who took part in swollen river crossings, patrols, ambushes, skirmishes and major actions against a ruthless and determined enemy who would never surrender. His memoir is of general interest as well as a fitting memoir to his men and should be prescribed reading for all would-be officers and soldiers.

This major work is the first general history of World War II to be based both on the existing literature and on extensive work in British, American and German archives. It covers all the theatres of war, the weaponry used, and developments on the home front. Taking a global perspective, the work deals with all belligerents and relates events in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, and the Pacific to each other. The role of diplomacy and strategy, of intelligence and espionage, and the impact of war upon society are all dealt with, often on the basis of hitherto unknown material. New light is shed on the actions of great and small powers and on topics ranging from the beginning of the war to the dropping of the atomic bombs; the titanic battles on the Eastern Front are fitted into the war as a whole; the killing of six million Jews and millions of other civilians is placed into context; and the fighting at sea and in the air is included in a coherent view of the great conflict.

A beautifully packaged and wonderfully nostalgic collection of war-time leaflets, presented in full colour. The period of wartime food rationing is now regarded as a time when the nation was at its healthiest. Food rationing was introduced in January 1940 after food shipments were attacked by German U-boat ‘Wolf Packs’ and everything from butter and sugar to fish and jam were rationed. The leaflets reproduced in Eating for Victory were distributed by the Ministry of Food and advised the general public on how to cope with these shortages. As a result of the stringent rules put in place during wartime, people began to eat more healthily than ever before. Eating for Victory is a great gift book and not only does it offer a nostalgic look back at one of the hardest and yet perhaps healthiest times in history, but it is also a relevant guide on healthy eating for today.


London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office, 1974. Fifth Edition. Octavo, 5 vols. VG/VG- full green cloth bindings spines age toned olive paper dust jackets protected with mylar coverings mild shelf wear and soiling jacket spines age toned vol. iv missing small chip at tail of jacket spine prices uncut upper edges slightly soiled contains black and white photos pages clean shelved above Case 9.

Price: $550 save 20% $440

The greatest books ever written about the Second World War

From biographies to bird's-eye views, memoirs to timeless reportage, here is a selection of the best non-fiction books ever written about the Second World War.

Matt Blake

To call the Second World War merely a war is almost a misnomer it was never just one war, but so many wars in one. Certainly, it was far too big, too vast and varied, to remember as a single event. The sheer volume of books about it are testament to that.

No war in history – rivalled only by the one that ended 20 years earlier – has inspired more literature. WWII has been seemingly endlessly written about, pored over, interpreted and re-interpreted. Which can make knowing what to read on the matter a little daunting. Books need to be chosen like a sniper picks her targets.

Mercifully, we’ve got the scope to help – and have rounded up the best non-fiction books ever written on the conflict.

Hitler 1936-1945
Ian Kershaw

To read this book is to ride shotgun through the mangled mind of a maniac – a mind so twisted, dark and terrifyingly pathetic that it demands a guide. Fortunately, Ian Kershaw has spent a lot of time there – and he knows the scenic route.

Far from the puffed-up political strongman that history remembers, Kershaw paints a portrait of an idle, tasteless, disillusioned loafer who got lucky. Kershaw’s examination of how a "spoilt child turned into the would-be macho man" is unrivalled, not only in its breadth and depth, but in its richness of character. Here was a man, plagued by paranoia, Parkinson’s Disease and arteriosclerosis who had no firm ideas beyond a gut-deep hatred of Bolsheviks, poor social skills and a quite chronic case of donkey breath. And yet he convinced a nation that a brutal genocidal war was a good idea, and that he had the chops to take on the world.

This is a heavyweight biography from a world-champion historian. It remains undefeated in its category.

Andrew Roberts

"We are all worms," Winston Churchill once told a friend. "But I do believe that I am a glow worm."

And glow he did. We all know the headlines – his rousing speeches play on a perpetual loop at the back of Britain’s national psyche – but Andrew Roberts’ exceptional biography gets further beneath the skin of the old bruiser than anyone – bar, perhaps, the man himself – has before.

The greatest challenge of writing a biography of Churchill is that Churchill has already done it inimitably (My Early Life, The World Crisis, The Second World War). But Roberts never falls into the punji hole of trying to out-Churchill Churchill. He writes with supreme authority, brio and no small amount of panache of Churchill’s exhilarating life, from his birth in 1874, to his death ninety years later. Nor does he pull his punches when it comes to Churchill’s many mistakes, either. Which is why Roberts’ tome earned the reputation of "the best single-volume biography of Churchill yet written".

If This is Man and The Truce
Primo Levi

If This Is a Man by Primo Levi (1947)

If you are to read one book about The Holocaust in your lifetime, let it be this. It is the most profound, haunting, and soul-churningly beautiful book I have ever read about the atrocity. I try to avoid bringing myself into these recommendations, but in this case I can’t help it: my copy reduced me to tears. Or, take it from Phillip Roth, who called it ‘one of the century's truly necessary books.’

Primo Levi was a Jewish-Italian chemist and member of Italy’s anti-fascist resistance when he was arrested and herded to Auschwitz in 1944. If This Is a Man relives the horror of his experience.

If you’re looking for a historical investigation into the rise and appeal of Nazism, or an inquiry into the origins and nature of evil, look elsewhere. This is a guidebook to Hell. It’s a story of collective madness, sheer evil, incredible stupidity and cruelty, but also humanity, spirit, grit and luck. Buy two copies - you may need a spare.

X Troop
Leah Garrett

It might invoke Inglorious Basterds, but this isn’t fiction. Here, the real-life tale of Jewish refugees from Britain, sent to infiltrate and disrupt the Nazi war effort at every turn, is brought to vivid life by in-depth original research and interviews with the surviving members by author Leah Garrett. Trained in counter-intelligence and advanced combat, these survivors – who lost families and homes to the Third Reich – became a unit known as X Troop, and their untold exploits, now published in full, illuminate a hitherto unknown story from an endlessly documented era.

The Unwomanly Face of War
Svetlana Alexievich

The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich (1985)

War is seldom told from a woman’s point of view. And yet, a million women fought for the Red Army during the Second World War. The Unwomanly Face of War tells their stories, in their words. Snipers, pilots, gunners, mothers and wives: Alexievich spoke to hundreds of former Soviet female fighters over a period of years in the 1970s and 1980s.

After decades of the war being remembered by 'men writing about men,' her goal was to give a voice to an ageing generation of women who’d been dismissed as storytellers and veterans, shattering the notion that war need be an ‘unwomanly’ affair.

In the author’s words, ‘“Women’s” war has its own colours, its own smells, its own lighting, and its own range of feelings. Its own words. There are no heroes and incredible feats, there are simply people who are busy doing inhumanly human things.’ It is a challenging read, namely because it is difficult to swallow in one go, but it would be hard to think of any book that feels more important, immersive and original. It was also one part of a body of work that earned its author a Nobel Prize in 2015.

Sinclair McKay

On February 13th, 1945 at 10:03, British bombers unleashed a firestorm over Dresden. Some 25,000 people – mostly civilians – were incinerated or crushed by falling buildings. In some areas of the city, the fires sucked so much oxygen from the air that people suffocated to death.

Dresden, now, has become a byword for the immeasurable cruelty of war. But was it a legitimate military target, or was it a final, punitive act of mass murder in a war already won? McKay’s account of that awful day – and many on either side – is probably the most gripping and devastating of them all. It is certainly the most comprehensive.

He tells the human stories of survivors on the ground as well as the moral conflicts of the British and American attackers in the sky. But McKay is under no illusion: Dresden was an atrocity. Sizzling with heart, anger, and brooding intensity, this tells the story of a once-great city pulverised to ash. No other Dresden book beats it.

First Light
Geoffrey Wellum

It took Geoffrey Wellum 35 years to turn his notebooks into a narrative. And a further quarter-century to get them published. The result is best described as one of the most engaging personal accounts of aerial warfare ever written.

Wellum was 17 when he joined the RAF in 1939, and 18 when he was posted to 92 Squadron. That’s where he first encountered a Spitfire. At first, he was clueless about the ways of combat, ravaged by fear and self-doubt. He found himself flying several sorties a day. He fought the Battle of Britain, and against German bombers during the Blitz. He fought at day and at night, from the skies above Kent to those above France. By 21, he was a battle-hardened flying ace who’d shot down as many enemies as friends he’d lost. In the end, life-or-death stress of mortal combat began to take its toll, as he succumbed to battle fatigue.

It is a beautifully written story of fear and friendship, bravery, bullets and, ultimately, burn out. You can practically smell the oil and gun smoke in the ink.

Antony Beevor

Stalingrad by Antony Beevor (1998)

Many terrible battles were fought during the Second World War, but none come close to the savage four-month German Soviet battle of Stalingrad. It was all shades of awful. For context, consider that the Allied death toll in Normandy reached an appalling 10,000. At Stalingrad, it was closer to a million.

The staggering scale, the megalomania, the depravity, the crushing absurdity, and the unspeakable carnage that took place across Stalingrad from August 1942 to February 1943 is exquisitely captured in Beevor’s definitive history of the event.

He magnificently combines a novelist’s verve with an academic’s rigor as he recounts, step by step, how the battle unfolded in all its miserable awfulness. In doing that, Beevor has created an unforgettable diorama of one of the most savage battlefields in history, one of wholesale death, indignity and waste.

The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan (1959)

We have all heard of D-Day - many of us have Spielberg to thank for that. But few really know D-Day until they’ve read Cornelius Ryan’s (no relation to Private) blistering classic of narrative non-fiction. Written in 1959, it set the standard of how war books should be written.

This is not a dry military history, but a story of people that reads, at times, like a novel. "What I write about is not war but the courage of man," the war correspondent once said.

He interviewed everyone – from privates to generals infantrymen, sailors, airmen, medics, drivers, paratroopers, glider crews and passengers. He puts the reader inside the headquarters of the German Field Marshal Rommel, tasked with repelling the invasion and Dwight Eisenhauer’s war room as he grapples with the quandary of whether to give the go-ahead despite stormy weather. The result is a thrilling tapestry of feeling and fear, bravery and uncertainty, by one of the greatest war correspondents in history.

Eagle Against the Sun by Ronald H Spector (1985)

There are many fine books on the Pacific War – the most visceral, on the whole, are the memoirs (EB Sledge’s With The Old Breed is sensational). But for a bomber’s eye view of that complex conflict, Eagle Against the Sun is a stone-cold classic.

It’s one of those books that no future foray into the subject will be written without paying due tribute to Eagle Against the Sun. It is a far more remarkable achievement that can be described here.

Blending forensic-level research with electrifying detail, Spector vividly recreates the major battles, barely known campaigns, and unfamiliar events of that brutal 44-month struggle. Unlike many books on the subject, he does not cast himself as a cheerleader of American greatness. He also covers aspects of the fight that are largely untouched by other historians of the field, such as women’s role in the conflict, as well as that of the many African American soldiers who took part. And he’s not afraid to address the Japanese motivations for its part in the theatre, nor the manifold failings on the part of American top brass. As well-oiled a dive into the cogs and sprockets of this brutal campaign as you could hope to find.

Unpatriotic History of the Second World War

Sixty million people died in the Second World War, and still they tell us it was the Peoples War.

The official history of the Second World War is Victors History. This is the history of the Second World War without the patriotic whitewash.

The Second World War was not fought to stop fascism, or to liberate Europe. It was a war between imperialist powers to decide which among them would rule over the world, a division of the spoils of empire, and an iron cage for working people, enslaved to the war production drive.

The unpatriotic history of the Second World War explains why the Great Powers fought most of their war not in their own countries, but in colonies in North Africa, in the Far East and in Germanys hoped-for Empire in the East. Find out how wildcat strikes, partisans in Europe and Asia, and soldiers mutinies came close to ending the war. And find out how the Allies invaded Europe and the Far East to save capitalism from being overthrown.

The History Book Club discussion

Many group members have mentioned collections of World War II books that made a huge difference for them.

One of these sets is the Time Life Series.

The World War II set is one of the longest sets by Time-Life (39 books) and it remains one of the most popular. Each book chronicles one specific aspect of World War II and in all they are probably one of the most thorough sets around.

The books are hardcover and have a large picture on the binding, but the title doesn't appear on either cover.

Across the Rhine
by Franklin M. Davis

Battles for Scandinavia
by John Robert Elting

by Robert Wernick

Bombers Over Japan
by Keith Wheeler

China, Burma, India
by Don Moser

Island Fighting
by Rafael Steinberg

Italy at War
by Henry Hitch Adams

Japan at War
by Gerald Simons

by Martin Blumenson

Partisans and Guerrillas
by Ronald H. Bailey

Prelude to War
by Robert T. Elson

Prisoners of War
by Ronald H. Bailey

Red Army Resurgent
by John Shaw

Return to the Phillippines
by Rafael Steinberg

Russia Besieged
by Nicholas Bethell

The Aftermath: Asia
The Aftermath: Europe
both by Douglas Botting

The Air War in Europe
by Ronald H. Bailey

The Battle of Britain
by Leonard Mosley

The Battle of the Atlantic
by Barrie Pitt

The Battle of the Bulge
by William K. Goolrick

The Commandos
by Russell Miller

The Fall of Japan
The Home Front: Germany
both by Charles Whiting

The Home Front: U.S.A
by Ronald H. Bailey

The Italian Campaign
by Robert Wallace

The Mediteranean
by A. B. C. Whipple

The Nazis
by Robert Edwin Herzstein

The Neutrals
by Denis J. Fodor

The Resistance
by Russell Miller

The Rising Sun
by Arthur Zich

The Road to Tokyo
by Keith Wheeler

The Second Front
by Douglas Botting

The Secret War
by Francis Russell

The Soviet Juggernaut
by Earl F. Ziemke

The War in the Desert
by Richard Collier

Victory in Europe
War in the Outposts
by Simon Rigge

War Under the Pacific
by Keith Wheeler

Note: I will be adding all of the citations: in progress

Across the Rhine by Franklin M. Davis

This is information about the author:

This is from military history on line:

A Path Across the Rhine: The Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen, March 1945
by Allen Parfitt

In March 1945 as Allied armies advanced into Germany, an ordinary bridge in an unimportant place suddenly became famous. This article will discuss how that happened, and the significance of the Bridge at Remagen.

World leaders are not modest men--or women. To climb to the top of political affairs in any country almost demands an outsized ego. This was particularly true during the Second World War. Franklin Roosevelt was very self-confident. Churchill was famously full of himself. Stalin was an egomaniac who plastered his picture on every wall in the Soviet Union, and his name on half the cities. Mussolini thought he was an incarnation of the ancient Romans, and DeGaulle was noted for his arrogance, even when his sole visible assets were a couple of aides and a big nose. But Adolf Hitler surpassed them all. During his meteoric rise to power, he decided that he was the world's leading expert on everything. There is a funny passage in Putzi Hanfstaengl's memoir where Hitler lectures him on art, indifferent to the fact that Putzi was a professional art dealer. Not so amusing to those who served under him was Hitler's discovery that he was the greatest war-leader of all time. His belief in his military ability was so strong as to be axiomatic. He knew he was always right, and did not trouble to solicit opinions from, say, experienced generals on the scene he knew from his lair hundreds of miles away exactly what needed to be done. This is a very fortunate circumstance for the world. It must never be forgotten that Hitler, his henchmen, and his allies, bad men every one, came shockingly close to something that usually exists only in James Bond movies and comic books: world domination. The fact that we are singing the Star Spangled Banner and not the Horst Wessel Song before ball games was made possible only by the valor of our armed services, the good judgment of our leaders, a little luck and a long series of egregious military errors Hitler made in the name of his genius.

Of course, by 1945 it had all gone wrong. The Thousand Year Reich was caught like a watermelon in a giant vise between strong and vengeful enemies advancing from the east and the west. It did not occur to Hitler, of course, that any of his orders or decisions had been mistaken. His explanation for the bad military situation was simple: his generals and his soldiers had let him down. It is ironic that, having decided to conquer the world by force of arms, Hitler never had much confidence in his military. Everyone else, especially his enemies, feared and respected the Wehrmacht and its extremely professional generals. Hitler saw them as lazy cowards. One of the characteristics of his military thinking is that he hated, hated, hated, hated, to give up one square meter of territory where German boots had trod. He was convinced that if he could just bribe, cajole, or, better yet, threaten his soldiers sufficiently to hold all the ground they had captured, they could miraculously save the day. He had already lost an army at Stalingrad, another in Tunisia, and a third in France to these principles, but as the war situation grew worse for Nazi Germany, the more stubbornly he clung to every city, field, mountain, and hamlet. And his armies just kept retreating! His already low opinion of his soldiers took another drop on July 20, 1944 when several of his officers, led by Count Claus von Stauffenberg narrowly failed to blow him up with a bomb planted under his conference table. Not surprisingly, Hitler took this very personally, and the stream of no-retreat orders, defend-to-the-last-man orders and general interference with what his soldiers were trying to do rose to a new high.

Hitler loved to look at military situation maps. One of the iconic photographs of the war shows him bent over a huge map wearing his overcoat and military flathat, considering his next stroke of genius as eager aides wait for the word from the Fuhrer. After the failure of the Ardennes offensive at the end of 1944 and the beginning of 1945, his maps did not look so good. His veteran commander in the west, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, wanted to withdraw and consolidate his battered forces behind the Rhine River. Typically, Hitler looked at the map, saw how much territory would have to be given up, and ordained that the Wehrmacht would defend the "Westwall" a collection of fixed defenses on the German border, mostly left over from the beginning of the war as an answer to the Maginot Line. These defenses had a great reputation among the Allies, one overwrought attacker, Lt. Colonel Wallace Cheves, describing them as "strongest net of fortifications ever constructed by the human race". However they had been largely dismantled after the success of the blitzkrieg in 1940, and although they had been refurbished to some extent, the lack of weapons, materials, and time meant that this defensive system, often called the "Seigfried Line", was not that formidable. Hitler forbad the construction of defenses behind the Rhine so that his troops would not be tempted to retreat to them. This policy was not changed until February, and by that time the Westwall was falling apart. Now, at last, Hitler began to think about defending the Rhine. Of course, this could not be done. Military amateurs like Hitler tend to overestimate the defensive possibilities of river lines. We shall call a couple of witnesses. The first is Britain's finest World War II general, Field Marshal Viscount William Slim. Contemplating the forcing of the Irriwady River in Burma against desperate Japanese resistance in his memoirs, he said, "I drew comfort too, at this time from quite another thought. I had, more than once, in two great wars, taken part in the forcing of a river obstacle, and I had on every occasion found it less difficult and less costly than expected. I had also read some military history and, although I cudgeled my brains, I could not bring to mind a single instance when a river had been successfully held against determined assault. As the time grew near for the crossings, I hugged this thought to me. Historically, the odds were in my favor.". The second is Frederick the Great: "You can defend a river that lies behind an army, but it has yet to be shown how a river in front of armies can successfully be held. As many times as you take up a position behind a river to keep the enemy from crossing it, that often you will be duped, because sooner or later the enemy, forced to display cunning, finds a suitable moment for stealing his crossing. If you divide your army to occupy the most likely places for a crossing, you risk being beaten in detail if your forces are concentrated, the least that can happen to you is a withdrawal in confusion to select another post." Nevertheless, although it was inevitable that the Allies would force the Rhine at some place and time, the place and time of their crossing was significant. If the Wehrmacht could have obtained just a little respite, they might have lengthened the war quite a bit. And even more significantly, Russian armies might have advanced much deeper into Germany than they did. Churchill was desperate to move as far east as possible. Although the Yalta agreements had broadly outlined the shape of postwar Europe, the devil, in the person of Joe Stalin, was in the details, and Churchill could foresee that Britain and America were going to have a tough time rousting the Russians out of any territory they were holding when the rotten edifice of Nazi Germany came crashing down. The sad story of postwar Poland and Czechoslovakia was proof of these apprehensions.

In 1916, during the First World War, the incredible demands of the Western Front began to outstrip the ability of the German rail system to supply it. Erich Ludendorff, the de facto warlord of Germany, requested that additional rail links to the west be constructed. Accordingly, in 1916 work was begun on a two track railroad bridge across the Rhine River at Remagen, a modest town between Bonn and Koblentz. In spite of material shortages and labor shortages caused by the war, work went on steadily, and by 1918 the bridge was almost complete. It was a handsome and functional structure, with two heavy stone towers at each end. The bridge was not designed to carry traffic from the existing railway in the area, which wound its leisurely way up the valley of the Ahr River, twisting, bending, and passing through every little hamlet before reaching Aldenahr, some 20 km from the Rhine, then curving south toward the larger valley of the Mosel. It was to be the Rhine crossing of a high speed military railway which would be built straight across the higher slopes of the Ahr Valley, across the Eifel Hills, and west toward the front. When the Bridge was completed and dedicated in 1918, and named after Ludendorff, a great deal of work had also been done on the railroad. Bridges, tunnels, and retaining walls had been constructed, and it remained only to lay the rails. But things had not gone well for the German army, and in November Ludendorff abruptly told the civilians in the government whom he had been ignoring for years that they needed to negotiate a cease fire immediately. With a mixture of patriotism and naiveté' they did so, and the Great War was over. Work stopped immediately on the railway, and was never resumed. Today the work that was done can still be seen, especially above the village of Dernau. Some of the tunnels were used by farmers, some were expanded to create a bunker for the Bonn Government to use as a fallout shelter during the Cold War, and at least one was used during World War Two to construct components for the V-2. But there was neither the need nor the money for the railway in the years immediately after the World War One, and such a railway was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles, which also provided for French occupation of the Rhineland. So the Ludendorff Bridge was a white elephant from its completion, built to serve a cause that was already lost and a rail line that was never constructed. Weary German soldiers tramped across the bridge on their way home, still wondering how they could have lost the war. For several years most of the traffic on the bridge was on the wooden footbridge that paralleled the double rail line. But the Ludendorff Bridge was connected to the Ahr Valley railroad, and as Germany rebuilt and rearmed, and the bridge became a useful rail link across the Rhine, with several trains a day puffing across its tracks. The rail line came from the west, turned north near the town of Sinzig and crossed the 350 meters of the Ludendorff Bridge. There was a rail line running up the east bank of the Rhine that actually passed under the bridge, but in order to connect to this line after crossing the bridge, trains had to pass through a 400 meter tunnel curving through a huge hill towering over the river called the Erpeler Ley. Then the trains could continue north toward Bonn. Because of the way the Rhine curves, the Ludendorff Bridge, which was built to carry east-west traffic, ran almost straight north and south.


Worldwar deals with a military invasion that begins on or around May 30, 1942 by a force of aliens that calls itself The Race, a reptilian species. It had reached Earth orbit in December 1941 but delayed the attack for various reasons.

Although the Race has the advantage of superior technology, its information on humanity had been collected by robotic probe during the 12th century AD. The invaders are surprised to find that humanity progressed far more rapidly than any other species that they had previously studied and conquered. Contrary to its expectations, at the time of invasion, the Race's technology is only marginally more advanced than 20th-century Earth technology. The commander hesitates, and considers turning back without revealing The Race's presence to the humans but finally decides to avoid the disgrace of that course of action.

The narrative follows the intersecting fortunes of a large number of human and alien characters. Notably, the series depicts how the Axis and Allied powers must co-operate to fight the alien menace.

As is gradually revealed, the Race unified its home planet into a single state with a military technology at a level similar to our history's late 20th century. It then had tens of thousands of years of further history, but for most of the time, it fought no wars and so had no incentive or need to develop more advanced weapons. Indeed, for most of the time, it maintained no army at all. Only the discovery of other planets with intelligent beings made the Emperor proclaim a "Soldier's Time" and build up an army, and the weapons developed at the last wars when the home planet was unified were quite enough to conquer the other planets. With Earth, it turned out differently since the various human nations were faced with arms some decades ahead of theirs but were soon able to close the gap.

Turtledove approaches the novels' science fiction scenario by focusing less on the technological and fantasy elements that are typically associated with the genre. Instead, he shows more concern for the role of more mundane affairs, such as the political repercussions of an alliance between the Allied and the Axis powers, the impact the presence of alien creatures has on human society, and the ways in which warfare is paradoxically a hindrance to civilization and simultaneously a catalyst for the progress of civilization. [4] [5]

Particular attention is given to the deep dilemma facing the Jews in both Poland and Palestine. The invaders, by landing in 1942, stop the ongoing Holocaust and close down Auschwitz for which the Jews are understandably grateful, but collaborating with the reptile invaders would brand the Jews as traitors to humanity.

The first series is made up of four volumes:

It ends with neither humanity nor the aliens triumphing. Instead, each side fights to the point that facing mutually-assured destruction, they settle into an uneasy ceasefire. The aliens want to colonize Earth and have nuclear weapons but want to use them only sparingly. They cannot colonize a radioactive wasteland after a full-scale nuclear exchange.

The invasion ultimately ends with all of the major Allied and Axis powers manage to develop their own nuclear weapons, which results in a stalemate. The Race is left in control of roughly half the planet, primarily colonial possessions in the Southern Hemisphere: Africa, South and Central America, Australia, and most of Asia aside from the Soviet Union and a few Japanese coastal holdings.

The second series of novels, set in the 1960s, deals with the interaction between surviving humans and the Race. Opening with the arrival of the colonization fleet, the series ends with the defeat of Nazi Germany and the establishment of a permanently-manned US space station in the asteroid belt. Part of the series focuses on the Reich-Race War of the mid-1960s, when the Greater German Reich and the Race fight a nuclear war.

The Germans lose and are forced to allow France to become an independent nation again under a new Fourth Republic. Nonetheless, it is a costly victory for the Race since fighting Germany on its own after 20 years of human technological advancement proved to be much more difficult than fighting all free human nations earlier. It is left obvious to both sides that the long-term trends are in humanity's favor.

The Race is also faced with ongoing guerilla wars in much of the territory that they conquered, especially by Communists in China and by Islamists in the Arab World. The Race, confirmed conservative monarchists who never developed any concept of republic and whose only religion is veneration of their Divine Emperor and the ghosts of past emperors, find it difficult to understand either Communism or Islam, but they are forced to admit that both are highly-effective ideologies in motivating humans to fight and to cause considerable difficulties to their occupiers.

Another major issue turns out to be ginger, an innocent flavoring in human cuisine but a powerful narcotic for the Race's metabolism. It creates problems of addiction and helps create new criminal networks involving both humans and rogue members of the Race. Moreover, inhaling ginger causes females of the Race to become sexually active outside of their normal mating season. That creates new problems, as the Race has no concept whatsoever of sexual activity being private, and when sexually aroused, it tends to engage in indiscriminate orgies to the scandal of the humans who happen to watch. For their part, members of the Race find it difficult to understand humans' insistence on sex being a private act, and the humans' great annoyance when reptiles walk in on them while engaged in it.

The final novel in the saga deals with humanity reaching the Race's homeworld, "Home" (Tau Ceti II). [6]

The following is a list of some of the major characters from the series.

Humans Edit

  • Mordechai Anielewicz (historical): Anielewicz, together with other Polish Jews, is liberated from Nazi occupation by the Race. In the wake of salvation, Anielewicz is faced with the agonizing dilemma between siding with the Race against Nazi Germany or fighting against the Race, an act that would make them allies of the Nazis.
  • Flight Lieutenant George Bagnall: A flight engineer in the Royal Air Force.
  • David Goldfarb: A radar operator in the Royal Air Force.
  • Lieutenant Ludmila Gorbunova: One of many female pilots in the Soviet Union's Red Air Force.
  • Colonel Leslie Groves (historical): The head of America's atomic bomb development.
  • Colonel Heinrich Jäger: A tank commander in the German Sixth Army who is advancing on Stalingrad when the alien invasion begins. He is depicted as a good and somewhat charismatic officer.
  • Jens Larssen: A physicist at the University of Chicago. He is sent on a cross-country trip to alert the US government of the importance of the atomic bomb project.
  • Vyacheslav Molotov (historical): The head of the Soviet Union's Foreign Ministry. He is among the first humans to orbit the Earth and is instrumental in negotiating the Peace of Cairo with the Race.
  • Moishe Russie: A student of medicine in Poland when the Germans invaded in 1939.
  • Otto Skorzeny (historical): The Waffen-SSHauptsturmführer, he is known for his unconventional thinking. The commando becomes a particularly feared human to the Race.
  • Sam Yeager: A minor-league ball player with the Decatur Commodores when the invasion takes place. Like many young men, he tried to enlist in the army in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor at the end of 1941 but was rejected for a medical issue.
  • Liu Han: A Chinese housewife whose innocuous village was raided by the Race and Japanese forces almost simultaneously. Kidnapped by the Race to be a part of their experiments, she becomes connected with the communist guerrillas in China, eventually joins the party, and rises through the ranks to become a leader in the revolutionary movement.

The Race Edit

  • Fleetlord Atvar: The commander of the Race's Conquest Fleet.
  • Flight Leader Teerts: A killercraft pilot from the Conquest Fleet. He is among the jet fighters that rapidly neutralize human air power in the opening days of the invasion.
  • Straha: A Shiplord (ship captain) who vocally opposes Atvar's strategies.
  • Ussmak: A driver for the crew of a landcruiser in the Conquest Fleet. He is one of the Lizard "Everyman" viewpoint characters.

Historical characters Edit

Numerous historical characters also appear, some having brief cameos and others having significant parts in the plot:

Second World War Books - History

TANKBOOKS, World War II oral history Web site maintained by Aaron Elson

A Guide to World War II Materials (Library of Congress Collection Guides & Bibliographies)

Almanacs, Atlases, Bibliographies, and Dictionaries

Adamczyk, Richard D., and Morris J. MacGregor, eds. United States Army in World War II: Reader's Guide . Washington: Center of Military History, United States Army, 1992.

Bloomberg, Marty. World War II and Its Origins: A Select Annotated Bibliography of Books in English . Littleton, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1975.

Enser, A. G. S. A Subject Bibliography of the Second World War, and Aftermath: Books in English, 1939-1974 . Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, 1977.

Enser, A. G. S. A Subject Bibliography of the Second World War, and Aftermath: Books in English, 1975-1987 . Brookfield, Vt.: Gower, c1990.

Friedl, Vicki L. Women in the United States Military, 1901-1995: A Research Guide and Annotated Bibliography . Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996.

Hogg, Ian V. Dictionary of World War II. Lincolnwood, Ill.: NTC, 1996.

Keegan, John, ed. The Times Atlas of the Second World War . New York: Harper & Row, 1989.

Keegan, John. Who's Who In World War II . New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Polmar, Norman B., and Thomas B. Allen. World War II: America At War, 1941-1945 . New York: Random House, 1991.

Reid, Alan Scott. A Concise Encyclopedia of the Second World War . Reading: Osprey Publishing, 1974.

Wheal, Elizabeth-Anne, Stephen Pope, and James Taylor. A Dictionary of the Second World War . Emeryville, Calif.: Publishers Group West, 1990.

Standard Histories and Other Printed Resources

Ambrose, Stephen E. D Day, June 6, 1944: The Climatic Battle of World War II . New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994.

Anderson, Karen. Wartime Women: Sex Roles, Family Relations, and the Status of Women During World War II . Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1981.

Baer, George W. One Hundred Years of Seapower: The U.S. Navy, 1890-1990 . Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1994.

Botting, Douglas. The D-Day Invasion . Alexandria, Va.: Time-Life Books, c1998.

Blum, John Morton. V Was for Victory: Politics and American Culture During Wold War II . New York: Harcourt Brace, 1976.

Brokaw, Tom. The Greatest Generation . New York: Random House, 1998.

Campbell, D'Ann. Women at War with America: Private Lives in a Patriotic Age . Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984.

Keegan, John. The Face of Battle . New York: Penguin Books, 1987.

Keegan, John. The Second World War . New York: Viking, 1990.

Hartmann, Susan M. The Home Front and Beyond: American Women in the 1940s . 1982.

Holm, Jeanne M., ed. In Defense of a Nation: Servicewomen in World War II . Arlington, Va.: Vandamere Press, 1998.

Jablonski, Edward A. A Pictorial History of the World War II Years . New York: Doubleday, 1977.

Larabee, Benjamin et al. America and the Sea: A Maritime History . Mystic, Conn.: Mystic Seaport Publications, 1998.

Lyons, Michael J. World War II: A Short History . Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, c1999.

Macdonald, Charles B. The Mighty Endeavor: American Armed Forces in the European Theater in World War II . New York: Oxford University Press, 1969.

Macdonald, Charles B. The Battle of the Bulge . London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1984.

McNalty, Bernard. War in the Pacific: Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay . New York: Mayflower, 1978.

Morden, Bettie J. The Women's Army Corps, 1945-1978 . Washington: Center of Military History, United States Army, 1990.

Morison, Samuel E. The Two Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War . Boston: Little, Brown, 1963.

O'Neill, William L. A Democracy at War: America's Fight at Home and Abroad in World War II . New York: Free Press, 1993.

Sherry, Michael S. The Rise of American Air Power: The Creation of Armageddon . New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987.

Spector, Ronald H. Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan . New York: Free Press, 1985.

Stillwell, Paul, ed. Golden Thirteen: Recollections of the First Black Naval Officers. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press , 1993.

Terkel, Studs. "The Good War": An Oral History of World War Two . New York: Pantheon, 1984.

Time-Life Books, eds. World War II: Time-Life Books History of the Second World War . New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1989.

Time-Life Books, eds. World War II: The Illustrated History of World War II . Alexandria, Va.: Time-Life Books, c1999.

Treadwell, Mattie E. The Women's Army Corps . Washington: Office of Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, 1954.

Weatherford, Doris. American Women and World War II . New York: Facts on File, 1990.

Weinberg, Gerhard L. A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Wynn, Neil A. The Afro-American and the Second World War . Rev. ed. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1993.

Second World War History Books

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I'd like to read a good history book about the second world war. I'm thinking about something rather generic, to refresh and somewhat deepen my knowledge about it.

There are so many books on this topic on the market that it's really hard to make a choice.



Anything by Stephen E. Ambrose.

Also I have enjoyed the The Liberation Trilogy by Rick Atkinson. So far only the first two are out, but the 3rd and final should be along fairly soon.



If you are looking for a generic history of WWII beginning with the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, that doesn't extend to 1,000+ pages, which achieves a good 'global' balance, with plenty of illustrations, maps and boxes of ancillary information, then you might like to check out World War II: A New History by Evan Mawdsley. Mawdsley is a Professor of International History at University of Glasgow, and has also written extensively on Russian history. This "new history" was published in 2009 by Cambridge University Press, and runs to about 450 pages of text.

In the excellent chapter by chapter selective shortlist of "Further Reading" at the end of the book, Mawdsley recommends two general histories namely A War To Be Won: Fighting the Second World War by Williamson Murray and Allan R. Millett, and A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II by Gerhard L. Weinberg, which he acknowledges as "being especially good on diplomacy and intelligence," albeit "hard to navigate" given its size.

On the "important 'total war' concept", Mawdsely recommends The Shadows of Total War: Europe, East Asia, and the United States, 1919-1939 edited by Roger Chickering and Stig Forster, and A World at Total War: Global Conflict and the Politics of Destruction, 1937-1945 edited by Roger Chickering et. al. (I own this second volume, and I can attest to its excellence).

Edit: I see you can access the Introduction and Further Reading sections via the Amazon preview feature. Worth a browse, even if you don't read the book.

The Second World War: A Complete History

As with all of Martin Gilbert&aposs works, this is an accomplished and polished history of World War II, looking both from a bird&aposs eye view of events, to a closer more intimate picture of so many of those involved.

It details the war in Europe, from the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, to then effects of the War even today.
The millitary conflict, is set against the backdrop of the genocide by the Nazis of millions of Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Russians , Serbs, &aposanti-social elements&apos and others.

Even befo As with all of Martin Gilbert's works, this is an accomplished and polished history of World War II, looking both from a bird's eye view of events, to a closer more intimate picture of so many of those involved.

It details the war in Europe, from the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, to then effects of the War even today.
The millitary conflict, is set against the backdrop of the genocide by the Nazis of millions of Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Russians , Serbs, 'anti-social elements' and others.

Even before the war, Hitler had boasted that the result of the war, would be the total destruction of European Jewry
In response to Hitler's persecution of the Jews, Dr Chaim Weizmann, the elder statesman of the Zionist movement, wrote to the British Prime Minister, to declare that the Jews would fight on the side of the democracies against Nazi Germany- his letter was published in The Times on September 6.
The human cost is recorded in harrowing detail. On September 25, the Germans launched Operation Coast. a massive air attack on Warsaw, which dropped a total of seventy incendiary tons on the Polish capital. A Polish officer's wife, Jadwiga Sosnkowska, who later escaped to the West recalled the horrors of that night. Also recorded by Gilbert was the bombing of Belgrade, in which 17 000 civillians were killed in one day.
Gilbert covers the Soviet connivance in the rape of Poland, and quotes from a variety of sources on the holocaust, such as the diaries of Chaim Kaplan and Emanuel Ringleblum.
The power of the German occupation authorities to tyrannize through hunger, fear and terror was unlimited.
We can take inspiration from the words of Winston Churchill to the members of his new government: 'You ask what is our policy? I will say it is to wage war by sea, land and air, with all our might, and with all the strength that G-D can give us to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime.'

Roosevelt also gave us some wisdom on how to deal with totalitarian states by 'resistance, not appeasement'.
There were always propagandists for Nazi Germany and her agression, such as the propagandist William Joyce, known as Lor Haw Haw, who broadcast pro-Axis messages from Radio Bremen, into Britain.
Gilbert covers antisemitic filth, which has poured from Nazi faucets, which made the holocaust possible, indeed moral denigration encourages physical elimination.
'Even the world of film and entertainment had been dragooned to serve the cause of race hatred.'
This is mirrored in the propaganda against the Jews of Israel, by the extreme Left, the international media, the United Nations, much of the European Union, the Non-Aligned Movement, Third World regimes, universities and leftist academics.

The book highlights heros such as the Jewish volunteers from the Land of Israel- Peretz Rosenberg, Hannah Szenes , Enzo Sereni, French heros such as Jean Moulin, British heros such as Noor Inayat Khan, Norwegian heros such as Arne Dahl, and those brave Germans who opposed the Nazis such as Hans Scholl, his sister Sophie Scholl of the White Rose, Pastor Niemoller, Bernhard Letterhaus and Gertrude Seele.
Also villains such as Himmler, Eichmann, Mengele, Stroop , Hans Frank, the Mufti Haj Amin El Husseini and
The scale of human cruelty is mindblowing. Even after it was clear that all was over for Hitler and the Nazis, 20 Jewish children were hung on Hitler's birthday, ranging in age from five to twelve years.
The basic message of remembering thse events is that totalitarian evil must be fought without quarter, and that the forces of good must never surrender. . more

Wow! What a terrible, horrific, bloody, incomprehensible, period of world history. The book gives almost a day by day account from the war&aposs beginning, with the military/racial conquests of Nazi Germany, to the long lasting effects years later. It really re-defines what human beings are possible of, from the extremes of unthinkable brutality, and lack of conscience and respect for human life, to the amazing perseverance of people of many races, and from many countries, facing unthinkable pain, l Wow! What a terrible, horrific, bloody, incomprehensible, period of world history. The book gives almost a day by day account from the war's beginning, with the military/racial conquests of Nazi Germany, to the long lasting effects years later. It really re-defines what human beings are possible of, from the extremes of unthinkable brutality, and lack of conscience and respect for human life, to the amazing perseverance of people of many races, and from many countries, facing unthinkable pain, loss, and odds.

An amazing overview of the whole conflict, I would recommend this book to everyone, to bring to light what this huge part of our recent history was about, the sacrifices and trials involved, and to gain from it, knowledge that might help inform our opinions and about right and wrong, what is morally acceptable, both in life, and in current conflicts, and issues that we have a say in.

There were many times during Hitler's rise to power, where situations could have been turned, and years of strife, been avoided. Hitler preyed upon people's fears, promoted hate, and justified morally unthinkable acts in the name of a political and racial ideology. It's sad to see people today, promoting causes in the same ways. Why can't we learn?

There are a couple quotes that have stuck with me, ones that ring true in current politics, both in the nationally, and internationally, that I think speak volumes about the WWII era, as well as current times:

“The great mass of people will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.” --Adolf Hitler --

“All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” --Hermann Goering--

Gilbert&aposs a very able historian of WWII and his choice to follow a strict, day by day, chronological approach was obviously very conscious, but it&aposs also a serious flaw. I think he chose it primarily to bring out details and maintain focus on Nazi atrocities large and small, and those of the German army generally, as well as those of Imperial Japan. It works, to the point where it gets tiresome for me, and that’s because it so badly interferes with coherent historical narrative. Maybe more impor
Gilbert's a very able historian of WWII and his choice to follow a strict, day by day, chronological approach was obviously very conscious, but it's also a serious flaw. I think he chose it primarily to bring out details and maintain focus on Nazi atrocities large and small, and those of the German army generally, as well as those of Imperial Japan. It works, to the point where it gets tiresome for me, and that’s because it so badly interferes with coherent historical narrative. Maybe more importantly, it contributes to this preposterously subtitled “complete” history of the war having large gaps in important areas. The battles for Stalingrad and St. Petersburg, for example, are so chopped up that it’s hard to pull the disparate pieces together. But they’re nevertheless covered reasonably well we’re never told how and when German forces got into Italy, in what numbers, formations, with what materiel, etc. The Pacific war is particularly chopped up, and you’ll have to go elsewhere to get any clarity or detail about what was happening on the east Asian mainland.

To be fair, Gilbert certainly knew the weaknesses inherent in his approach and he surely chose it knowingly. It is too easy to think of the Holocaust as an abstraction, and a sanitized one, and to use that abstraction to avoid thinking about its true horrors, about the very human depths of evil involved, and about all the other atrocities and evils that weren’t part of the plan to eliminate European Jewry. Apparently, cutting through this tendency was Gilbert’s first, second and third priority. He probably succeeded, but that precluded producing a good history of the war. For me, that’s unfortunate. The book has its place, and a valuable one, but it misrepresents itself. It probably should have let the context of the war be more of a background to the book’s primary focus, allowing the author to both focus more on the atrocities and not pretend to be presenting a solid history of the war. I wouldn’t suggest this book to anyone who hasn’t read a couple other good histories of WWII. As a footnote, it does have many very good maps, which similar books often don’t have.
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Gilbert does a great job with an extremely difficult subject. He is factual but not graphic. And yet the horrors of this war are practically endless. Millions upon millions of lives. Ironically we finished on the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.

July 6, 2016: This was an excellent if sobering listening choice for dear husband and myself this past July 4th weekend. It was good to recall and give thanks for the debt owed to so many for our sacred freedom. It left both of us overwhelme Gilbert does a great job with an extremely difficult subject. He is factual but not graphic. And yet the horrors of this war are practically endless. Millions upon millions of lives. Ironically we finished on the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.

July 6, 2016: This was an excellent if sobering listening choice for dear husband and myself this past July 4th weekend. It was good to recall and give thanks for the debt owed to so many for our sacred freedom. It left both of us overwhelmed, certainly not for the first time, at the horrors which we human beings are capable of against each other. Lest we ever forget. . more

Part 1 of The Second World War consists of Chapters 1 through 27 of Martin Gilbert’s complete book of the same name. It brings the reader up to November 1942 with Operation Torch, the Allied landing in Tunisia, the largest amphibious landing ever to date and the failure of the German Army to take Stalingrad which gave the Allied peoples everywhere so much hope.

Gilbert’s book is almost a day-by-day chronology of the war. Hearing of the loss of so much life, the inhuman brutality perpetrated in t Part 1 of The Second World War consists of Chapters 1 through 27 of Martin Gilbert’s complete book of the same name. It brings the reader up to November 1942 with Operation Torch, the Allied landing in Tunisia, the largest amphibious landing ever to date and the failure of the German Army to take Stalingrad which gave the Allied peoples everywhere so much hope.

Gilbert’s book is almost a day-by-day chronology of the war. Hearing of the loss of so much life, the inhuman brutality perpetrated in the name of who-knows-what becomes a bit mind numbing. Listening to it, one begins to wonder-if it happened before, what, or who is to stop it from happening again?

May 26, 2016: We have admired how far-reaching and universal Martin Gilbert’s narrative has been. He smoothly transitions from the thousands killed to the individual nightmare atrocity to the political machinations from country to country keeping our interest throughout. Continuing on.

May 6, 2016: Martin Gilbert was the official biographer of Winston Churchill. Having lived in the UK for four years I confess to being partial to British history. Dear husband and I are listening to this when we have the time. So much better than the telie. . more

Somehow, I read this entire book in about two months. 53 chapters and 750 or so pages. It was a lot.

When I first started, I didn&apost think I was going to be able to make it. I knew I couldn&apost quit, because this was a school book. but at the same time, I was pretty sure there was no way I could keep on. Not with the weight of human depravity being thrown at me with every page and paragraph and line. The Second World War was, throughout, less a war of battles and more one of mass destruction everyw Somehow, I read this entire book in about two months. 53 chapters and 750 or so pages. It was a lot.

When I first started, I didn't think I was going to be able to make it. I knew I couldn't quit, because this was a school book. but at the same time, I was pretty sure there was no way I could keep on. Not with the weight of human depravity being thrown at me with every page and paragraph and line. The Second World War was, throughout, less a war of battles and more one of mass destruction everywhere and largely that of innocent civilians. Millions and millions of these died, and the stories of their ends is heartrending to read but impossible to look away from.

This is not an easy book, either in reading level or brutality level. It is a brilliantly written book, one that gives insight into all the leaders on all sides of the war. As a history of the brutality that was the Second World War I'd recommend it in a heartbeat. If you're just looking for an interesting history lesson, however, this would not be the place to start. "The unfinished business of the Second World War is human pain," says the epilogue to this book, and that is the truth. This was a war of pain. So much pain.

Never again. and what we know will help us to avoid letting something of this scale happen again. Learn of the Holocaust. Learn of the occupation of Poland, of the destruction of Russia, of the torture of prisoners of war. It's brutal and violent and heartrending. It makes us question humanity. But it is needed.

This was a bit of a brain-dump. but I have many thoughts after reading this book. If you stuck around, thank you. This isn't exactly a review like I normally do, but it's my honest thoughts.
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“For those civilians who were fortunate to survive privation, deportation and massacre, similar scars, physical, mental and spiritual, remained—and still remain—to torment them. The greatest unfinished business of the Second World War is human pain.”

I came into this book with absolute ignorance. I only took Canadian history in school, so I didn&apost know much about WWII and had always assumed it was only toward Jewish people. Martin Gilbert does an excellent job explaining the horrors o “For those civilians who were fortunate to survive privation, deportation and massacre, similar scars, physical, mental and spiritual, remained—and still remain—to torment them. The greatest unfinished business of the Second World War is human pain.”

I came into this book with absolute ignorance. I only took Canadian history in school, so I didn't know much about WWII and had always assumed it was only toward Jewish people. Martin Gilbert does an excellent job explaining the horrors of one of the most devastating events in history, and how it changed, and ended, the lives of many people.

Gilbert covers nearly everything, from the very first victim of the war, to the effect the war has on people nearly 50 years later. I wish he delved into certain topics a bit more, and some a little less, but it was a very haunting and terrifying view on what hatred can lead to. . more

Gilbert&aposs history of world war 2 should be the first choice of anyone not only interested in the military campaigns but also in the social atmosphere of the times. He is amazing in his ability and willingness to blend the two into this amazing narrative of possibly the largest human undertaking in history. I was enthralled from beginning to end. The story really comes alive. The refreshing thing is that it&aposs not just told through the stories of the big names that we all know, much of it is seen Gilbert's history of world war 2 should be the first choice of anyone not only interested in the military campaigns but also in the social atmosphere of the times. He is amazing in his ability and willingness to blend the two into this amazing narrative of possibly the largest human undertaking in history. I was enthralled from beginning to end. The story really comes alive. The refreshing thing is that it's not just told through the stories of the big names that we all know, much of it is seen from the perspective of everyday folks like you and me caught up in the whirlwind. An impressive work through and through.

If you are looking for a more strictly military history of the war try John Keegan's book by the same name. . more

Martin Gilbert&aposs book of the Second World War is one of the best books about WWII, an detailed account of the camps of battle, with a vivid descriptions of concentrations camps, maybe is not analitical book, but he describes many facts of the conflict, the murderers of jews in Lithuania or Russian front.

One book well documented and written, definitively an interesting overview of the WWII. I recommend this book. Martin Gilbert's book of the Second World War is one of the best books about WWII, an detailed account of the camps of battle, with a vivid descriptions of concentrations camps, maybe is not analitical book, but he describes many facts of the conflict, the murderers of jews in Lithuania or Russian front.

One book well documented and written, definitively an interesting overview of the WWII. I recommend this book. . more

I wasn&apost certain when I took this book on earlier this month that I would have the stamina to finish it. I&aposm glad I did. Reading a book like this around Christmas time seems a little strange, but if not now, then when?

I enjoyed the book a great deal. The author is correct this is indeed a complete history. Notice his choice of words here: He called it a complete history. If you go into this thinking this will be a detailed history, you will come away from the back cover feeling extreme disappoi I wasn't certain when I took this book on earlier this month that I would have the stamina to finish it. I'm glad I did. Reading a book like this around Christmas time seems a little strange, but if not now, then when?

I enjoyed the book a great deal. The author is correct this is indeed a complete history. Notice his choice of words here: He called it a complete history. If you go into this thinking this will be a detailed history, you will come away from the back cover feeling extreme disappointment. The author doesn’t go into detail, nor can he. A detailed history would take multiple volumes and be more work than most people would want to put into the reading. But it is very much complete.

The book begins, as you might expect it would, with Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939. From there, you follow other battles as they occur chronologically. There are fascinating snippets here in which you get information about the lives of some of the individuals in the book. The author seems to almost obsess with the number of Jews who died during the war. Don't misunderstand. I'm not suggesting he gloss over that. Quite the opposite. But he does seem to place a rather significant amount of attention on the deaths of Jews in various locations, not merely the concentration camps. That doesn't detract from the book for me. But it certainly brought those deaths front and center in a rather vivid way.

This is worth your time if you can find a copy. It has been out a lot of years but considering its format and the fact that it is only able to do an extremely shallow surface scratch of the war, I suspect the scholarship hasn't changed enough to render any of the material outdated.
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A difficult, but important work of the history of World War Two. On the positive side, the author spends a large amount of time detailing the atrocities that occurred to the Jewish population of Europe. Week by week, in mind numbing details he follows the Nazi program to eliminate the Jewish population from Europe. It is difficult to read, difficult to understand and difficult to realize that people could possibly be so cruel. It is important that we try to do so.

As a history of the events of th A difficult, but important work of the history of World War Two. On the positive side, the author spends a large amount of time detailing the atrocities that occurred to the Jewish population of Europe. Week by week, in mind numbing details he follows the Nazi program to eliminate the Jewish population from Europe. It is difficult to read, difficult to understand and difficult to realize that people could possibly be so cruel. It is important that we try to do so.

As a history of the events of the war, it falls short - there didn't appear to be much regarding the strategy of the war, the marching out the events one after another gives the reader a window in which to peer through regarding the war on all fronts, but the overarching issues and strategy were never really discussed. The author also spends much time on the European theatre of the war, almost forgetting all the other fronts, particularly the war in the Pacific. . more

May 5, 2021
A Review by Anthony T. Riggio of the book:“Second World War” by Sir Martin Gilbert

I purchased this book in the Kindle format because of its description of being a thorough and complete history of the cataclysmic events occurring in a sequential date format. I thoroughly enjoyed this book though it took me almost three weeks to read it. While I was in the first couple of chapters, I noted that the maps presented in the Kindle format were impossible to read, at least for me as I had a K May 5, 2021
A Review by Anthony T. Riggio of the book:“Second World War” by Sir Martin Gilbert

I purchased this book in the Kindle format because of its description of being a thorough and complete history of the cataclysmic events occurring in a sequential date format. I thoroughly enjoyed this book though it took me almost three weeks to read it. While I was in the first couple of chapters, I noted that the maps presented in the Kindle format were impossible to read, at least for me as I had a Kindle Paper white reader. It was too frustrating to read locations and other details. Mid way through my reading I decided I wanted to have a copy of this book in my library. Consequently, I ordered a hard bound copy from a book dealer in the US. There were many hard bounds from the UK but they appeared to be reprints.

This book is a straight out history book of almost 800 pages and certainly not for the uninitiated, especially those who have never read many books about WW II. I read the Kindle edition to completion (primarily because there were many words and items that needed additional defining and looking up and the Kindle did this most times very well). The hardbound edition I purchased had very readable maps and clear photos and a complete bibliography containing many books I already read or purchased.

I have read many books about the WW II but this one was very Anglo-Centric and yet quite interesting and very informative. I was able to easily follow the major events from the very start of WW II to the unconditional surrenders of both Germany and Japan. This book presented the incalculable atrocities committed by all the participants. I knew from other authors that Americans committed murderers of Prisoners of War but this author was very vivid in those atrocities committed by all of the Allies, including Americans soldiers. That is the reality of war and the critical conditions that required extreme measures. I know for a fact, that the overall treatment of POW's was most humane by the Americans and its Allies excluding, however, the Soviet Union. War on the scale of WW II was fertile grounds for unimaginable horrors.

We know from reading other histories of WW II that the Nazi Germans were bent on the extermination of all the Jews in Europe and produced a process on an industrial level. This book gives some very alarming statistics on a very terrifying and unimaginable level that astounded me as the Germans pressed their efforts throughout Europe and into the Soviet Union and as they retreated back when their war capabilities were diminishing. What Jews Germans missed, the Russians added to the numbers of Jews as they pushed the Germans back westward.

The statistics on the wounded and death of men on both sides of the conflagration were too large to even imagine but added to the factual reality and scope of this war.

While the European and Russian operations are quite thorough in their setting out, the events in Asia were minimized in their startling statistics. The use or consideration of nuclear weaponry was not isolated to the Americans but both the Germans and the Russians were engaged in devolving these war weapons. It was the Americans that completed the development and testing for use against the Japanese who were so fanatical in the idea of non surrender that the US felt compelled to save at least a million plus casualties of allied troops and sailors.

There were so many other things I learned about WW II that I could have mentioned but the breaking of the German codes via the Enigma device by the British was outstanding and the cracking of the Japanese codes by the Americans saved many lives and added to the shortening of the War.

I consider the reading of this book by students of History to be a must and its writing was superb and easy to understand and I consequently easily gave it five stars out of five. . more

During the coronavirus pandemic, learn what Nazis and the Democratic Party have in common.

The parallels between Nazi oppression of Europe and Democratic Party oppression of the United States become obvious on reading Martin Gilbert’s mammoth history of World War II.

While I originally wanted to learn more about the Nazi oppression of European nations only, imperialist policies of fascist Italy and imperial Japan reinforced several ideas about how dictatorships not only suppress, but eventually ki During the coronavirus pandemic, learn what Nazis and the Democratic Party have in common.

The parallels between Nazi oppression of Europe and Democratic Party oppression of the United States become obvious on reading Martin Gilbert’s mammoth history of World War II.

While I originally wanted to learn more about the Nazi oppression of European nations only, imperialist policies of fascist Italy and imperial Japan reinforced several ideas about how dictatorships not only suppress, but eventually kill freedom-loving people. Of course, Nazi actions in Europe parallel the policies of the Democratic Party in the United States, so reading a dated history of World War II is still relevant.

Besides that, the 747 pages of text—and many full-page maps and photos—are sure to occupy time well spent indoors during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the parallels between Nazis and Democratic politicians are obvious. First is the dominant Nazi belief that there is some human life which is not worth living. For Nazis, it was Jews, the Roma people (Gypsies), Slavs, and others (homosexuals and mentally ill persons). Democrats, similarly, despise the unborn, the handicapped newborn, and the elderly. That’s why their policies endorse abortion legal throughout the nine months of pregnancy for any reason whatsoever, infanticide (the killing of handicapped newborns), and euthanasia (the killing of the elderly and denial of care to medically-vulnerable senior citizens).

Second are the means which Nazis used and Democratic politicians use to obtain and maintain political power. For Nazis, terror and violence were the order of the day. For Democrats, much the same, although the terror is usually masked in ad hominem and politically-correct attacks against their opponents, as when an opponent is branded as “homophobic” or “racist” when the person attacked is anything but. Sometimes, Democratic politicians endorse the practices of violent domestic terrorist groups like Antifa to intimidate law-abiding citizens.

Third is the devastation which the Nazis and Democrats created. Nazi destruction of Europe is obvious we have still photo and film documentation of the damage caused to European cities throughout their long reign of terror. The evidence of Democratic devastation is not as clear as a photo of a destroyed Warsaw, but nonetheless apparent. Democratic abortion policies, for example, have not only killed unborn children, but also harmed or killed mothers and alienated fathers. Democratic assaults on heterosexual normativity have affected the family and the importance of the husband and father in the family as much as any Nazi bomb would have destroyed an ancient European church.

Gilbert’s interpolation of historical facts with countless narratives of victims of the war makes the reading of his 747 pages suspenseful and powerfully emotional. Although we know how the “story” ends (the Nazis lose, and Western civilization is saved from a vicious totalitarian threat), we do not know the specific facts of how Europe saved itself from Nazi oppression. Gilbert supplies those facts and relates painful episodes of people killed by the Nazis.

Similarly, while we know the horrors of Democratic policies attacking human life, what is not so clear is whether we twenty-first century people have learned anything from Nazi oppression of Jewish and Christian (Western) civilization. One could answer “obviously not” since the policies of the Democratic Party in the United States are as oppressive as Nazi ideology yet are still endorsed by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Americans who align themselves with that party. One can only hope that Americans will reject Democrats’ Nazi-like policies and practices in November’s elections. . more

Bookshop: Second World War

The Eastern Fleet and the Indian Ocean 1942-1944, Charles Stephenson. Looks at the difficult war experienced by the British Eastern Fleet, which was outclassed by the Japanese in 1942, largely hollowed out to help other fleets in 1943 and was only able to go back onto the offensive in 1944, once the Japanese navy had been largely neutralised by the US Navy in the Pacific. Makes a good argument that the poor quality of Fleet Air Arm aircraft in 1942 combined with the lack of any real doctrine for using large carrier air groups would have given the Japanese an advantage even against the full Britist fleet, but also argues that the Navy and in particular Admiral Somerville, actually did rather well in these difficult circumstances (Read Full Review)

Dunkirk and the Little Ships, Philip Weir. A good account of the evacuations of 1940, starting with an account of the campaign in the west which led to them, followed by an examination of the evacuation itself. This is followed by a look at the ships that actually carried it out, from the destroyers that carried the most men to the famous small ships that have since captured the imagination. Followed by a look at the other evacuations of 1940, and the efforts to commemorate them all. (Read Full Review)

North Cape 1943 &ndash the Sinking of the Scharnhorst, Angus Konstam. A look at the last battle in which a British battleship fought against an enemy battleship, and the last clash between battleships fought without airpower. An excellent account of this battle, including a good background history, an explanation of the many advantages held by the British, and a detailed account of the battle, seen from both sides (Read Full Review)

British Town Class Cruisers &ndash Design, Development & Performance &ndash Southampton and Belfast Classes, Conrad Waters. A detailed look at the development, design and combat record of the Town Class Cruisers, the most modern cruisers in British service at the outbreak of the Second World War. Includes a detailed examination of the design process, a look at the layout of each sub-varient of the class (supported by the splendid colour plans produced at the time), a history of each ships career, and a detailed look at every occasion on which they were damaged. A very useful, detailed history of these important ships(Read Full Review)

Spoils of War &ndash The Fate of Enemy Fleets after the Two World Wars, Aiden Dodson & Serena Cant. Looks at the fate of the defeated nation&rsquos fleets after the two World Wars, when the surviving ships were split between the victorious nations, but not after a great deal of debate about who got what, and what should happen to the remaining ships (as well as to those that might have been salvageable). Includes a clear narrative of events, and a very useful reference section, tracing the fate of each surviving ship(Read Full Review)

The Modern Cruiser &ndash The evolution of the ships that fought the Second World War &ndash Robert C. Stern. Looks at the most varied class of major warship, covering everything from tiny scout cruisers not much bigger than the largest destroyers up to the massive battle cruisers of the First World War. A well structured book, with each chapter looking at a particular period and the cruisers produced in response to the naval treaties in place at the time combined with reports of what each power&rsquos rivals were building. An interesting look at a series of warships that wouldn&rsquot have existed in the form they did without the London and Washington naval treaties(Read Full Review)

The Naval Siege of Japan 1945 &ndash War Plan Orange Triumphant, Brian Lane Herder. Looks at the final stage of the US Navy&rsquos war against Japan, the series of carrier strikes and battleship attacks on the Japanese Home Islands then helped devastate the Japanese war economy in the last months of the war. Often only looked at in brief, between the battle of Okinawa and the dropping of the Atomic Bombs, these raids were actually a key part of the US plan for the invasion of Japan, and the damage they caused (and the ability of the US fleet to operate so close to Japan) helped convince the Japanese leadership that the war was lost(Read Full Review)

With the Royal Navy in War and Peace, O&rsquoer the Dark Blue Sea, Vice Admiral B.B. Schofield. An autobiography of a senior British naval officer of the Second World War, covering his time as naval attaché in France and Holland in 1939-40, with the key Trade Division and sharing Eisenhower&rsquos HQ before D-Day, as well as his time commanding several warships including two of Britain&rsquos last battleships(Read Full Review)

Eagles over the Sea 1936-42, A History of Luftwaffe Maritime Operations, Lawrence Paterson. Looks at the origins of German naval air power during the First World War, its revival in the 1930s, the first combat tests of the Spanish Civil War and its role in the key battles during the first half of the Second World War, a period that included the battle of Norway, the battle of Britain, the forced German intervention in the Mediterranean, the battle of the Atlantic, the Arctic convoys and the period of most German success on the Eastern Front, all campaigns that involved naval aviation in some way (Read Full Review)

British Cruiser Warfare &ndash The Lessons of the Early War, 1939-1941, Alan Raven. A very detailed study of the first two years of cruiser warfare, looking at how the Royal Navy operated against its German and Italian enemies. A detailed chronological account of the fighting is followed by a series of invaluable studies of particular topics, providing an impressive level of detail of issues from anti-aircraft tactics and damage control to life onboard ship. Also includes a useful section on the impact of code breaking on both sides, and some excellent plans of key British cruisers (Read Full Review)

British Naval Weapons of World War Two &ndash The John Lambert Collection Vol II: Escort and Minesweeper Weapons, ed. Norman Friedman. Starts with a lengthy historical introduction looking at the development of the massive escort and minesweeping fleets and the weapons they used, written by the renowned Norman Friedman, before moving on to the incredibly detailed plans, which cover everything from full plans of the ships themselves to the tiniest details of their weapons, all supported by detailed annotations. Very useful for anyone looking to model these ships or attempting to identify particular weapons (Read Full Review)

The Dawn of the Carrier Strike and the World of Lieutenant W P Lucy DSO RN, David Hobbs. Looks at the development of British naval aviation between the wars, the damage done by the policy of dual control, the Navy&rsquos battles to regain control of its own aircraft, and the first proper carrier campaign in history, the Norwegian campaign of 1940, where almost all of the types of carrier operations carried out later in the war were first attempted, although admittedly on a small scale. Shows how the Navy coped with the problems of dual control, and how quickly it learnt lessons during the Norwegian campaign (Read Full Review)

Aboard the Farragut Class Destroyers in World War II, Leo Block. Looks at life onboard the eight ships of the Farragut class, the first newly designed destroyers built for the US Navy after the First World War, and the prototypes for the &lsquo1,500 ton&rsquo destroyers. Written by a veteran of these ships, using his own knowledge and the memories of the decreasing number of surviving crewmen to produce an in-depth picture of the life of the enlisted men on these small but hard hitting warships(Read Full Review)

Sailors behind the Medals - Waging War at Sea 1939-1945, Chris Bilham. Gives brief overviews of the careers of twenty three medal winning members of the Royal Navy during the Second World War, illustrating just how varied the experiences of different sailors could be. Covers the entire naval career of each man, rather than just their medal winning exploits, and focuses on the general experiences of their ships more than their individual life stories. (Read Full Review)

American Amphibious Gunboats in World War II, Robin L. Rielly. Looks at the creation of armed gunboats based on the Landing Craft, Infantry (LCI), at first as a weapon for use against Japanese barges and later used to support amphibious landings and to defend against suicide boats and kamikaze attacks. An impressive example of how an improvised weapon could turn into a vital weapon, playing a major part in the second half of the Pacific War, and especially at Okinawa (Read Full Review)

Seizing the Enigma - The Race to break the German U-Boat Codes, 1939-1943, David Kahn. A fascinating account of the struggle to crack the German Navy&rsquos version of the Enigma, covering the development of the machine, the international efforts to break the code, and the long British efforts to get into the Navy Enigma, including the Navy expeditions to capture key parts of the machine and related documents. Does a good job of explaining this complex story, with the space to go into more detail of the specific naval aspects(Read Full Review)

Secret Naval Investigator - the Battle against Hitler's Secret Underwater Weapons, Commander F. Ashe Lincoln QC, RNVR. The autobiography of one of the leading figures in the battle against Germany&rsquos increasingly advanced mines and torpedoes, a key part of the battle of the Atlantic, allowing the British to overcome a series of German &lsquosecret weapons&rsquo that might otherwise have cut the vital sea lanes to Britain. This comes across as one of the most dangerous research jobs of the Second World War, and many of the author&rsquos colleagues were killed while trying to disarm and dismantle these weapons(Read Full Review)

Forgotten Sacrifice - The Arctic Convoys of World War II, Michael G. Walling. A valuable study of the full story of the Arctic Convoys, looking beyond the most famous of the convoy battles to cover the early almost unopposed sailings, the return trips, the clashes between German and Soviet forces along the Arctic coast and the Soviet contribution to the convoys themselves. Includes many harrowing tales of Arctic survival that reminds us of the human cost of these convoys (Read Full Review)

The Japanese Navy in World War II, ed. David C. Evans. A very valuable examination of the successes and failures of the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Second World War, written by some of the officers who were closest to the action. Provides a very different view of some very familiar battles, and some interesting insights into the flaws in the Japanese war effort, including a lack of a realistic war plan and the tendency to adopt over-complex plans (Read Full Review)

River Plate 1939 - The sinking of the Graf Spee, Angus Konstam. Looks at one of the earliest major British naval successes of the Second World War, the defeat and forced destruction of the pocket battleship Graf Spee by a much weaker force of British cruisers. Covers everything from the design of the warships, her commerce raiding career, and the allied hunt to the final destruction of Graf Spee by her own crew(Read Full Review)

Taranto 1940 - The Fleet Air Arm's precursor to Pearl Harbor, Angus Konstam . A useful account of the Fleet Air Arm's most dramatic achievement of the Second World War, sinking three Italian battleships in harbour at Taranto a year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A good text that covers the complex series of wider operations that accompanied the raid on Taranto, along with a detailed account of the attack, and supported by some particularly useful 3D maps of the attack itself [read full review]

Fighters over the Fleet &ndash Naval Air Defence from Biplanes to the Cold War, Norman Friedman. A history of naval air defence from the First World War to the present day, looking at the systems used to control air defence, and the aircraft and weapons involved. Gets a bit bogged down in post-war aircraft design, but otherwise a detailed but readable account of a remarkably complex topic that has dominated fleet design since the Second World War, covering an impressive wide range of topics over a century of naval aviation. [read full review]

Despatches from the Front: Capital Ships at War 1939-1945, compiled John Grehan & Martin Mace. Reproduces a series of Royal Navy reports covering some of the key battleship actions of the Second World War, including the battle of the River Plate, loss of the Hood, Prince of Wales and Repulse, the sinking of the Bismarck, X-boat attacks on the Tirpitz and the operations of the British Pacific Fleet in 1945. Helps trace the decline of the battleship during the Second World War, a conflict in which direct clashes between battleships were very rare, but air power came to dominate [read full review]

US Navy Carrier Aircraft vs IJN Yamato Class Battleships, Pacific Theatre 1944-45, Mark Stille. Looks at the two battles that resulted in the sinking of Yamato and Musashi, the two most powerful battleships ever completed, and the US aircraft, weapons and tactics that sank them. Interesting to bring together all of the relevant technical histories &ndash the ships themselves, Japanese anti-aircraft guns, the US aircraft and their main weapons &ndash in a single volume, followed by detailed accounts of the air attacks that sank the two battleships [read full review]

Despatches from the Front: The War at Sea in the Mediterranean 1940-1944, compiled John Greham & Martin Mace . A selection of official dispatches describing a series of Royal Navy engagements in the Mediterranean, covering famous successes such at the attack on Taranto, the costly convoy battles and the less familiar defeat in the Dodecanese in 1943. A valuable source that tells us what the Navy thought of its own actions at the time, including interesting suggestions for improvements. [read full review]

Survivors: British Merchant Seamen in the Second World War, G. H. and R. Bennett. This fascinating book looks at the fate of those Merchant Seamen whose ships were sunk by enemy action during the Second World War. It follows the survivors of those sinkings from the moment their ship was first hit to their final rescue. Each stage of the process is illustrated in the survivor's own words [see more]

The Battle of the Narrow Seas, Peter Scott. An account of the battles fought by Britain's Light Coastal Forces in the Channel and North Sea, written by Sir Peter Scott, the future conservationist and commander of one of the Motor Torpedo Boats whose exploits are described in the text. Written in time for the Christmas market of 1945 this is one of the most immediate and vibrant accounts of service during the Second World War that you will ever read. [read full review]

In the Wake of the Graf Spee, Enrique Dick . Looks at the life of Hein Dick, a crewman on the Graf Spee who was interned in Argentina after the Battle of the River Plate, married an Argentinean, then had to struggle to get back to the country after he was deported back to Germany at the end of the Second World War. The first half, looking at his military career is interesting, but the second half, from the internment onwards is totally fascinating, and covers a neglected area. [read full review]

Rising Sun, Falling Skies: The Disastrous Java Sea Campaign of World War II, Jeffrey R. Cox. A brilliant account of the doomed desperate attempt by the Allies to defend the Dutch East Indies, focusing on the naval campaign that ended with crushing defeats in the Java Sea and the loss of most Allied warships either in battle or while attempting to escape. [read full review]

Fight for the Sea - Naval Adventures from the Second World War, John Frayn Turner. A series of interesting snapshots of the war at sea from the British and American point of view, covering many of the major battles of the war as well as a number of less familiar topics. [read full review]

The British Sailor of the Second World War, Angus Konstam. A concise look at the life of the British sailor of the Second World War, looking at their training, daily life on the ships (with the difference between different types and sizes of particular interest), the activities of the Home Fleet, Mediterranean Fleet and various Far Eastern fleets and the eventual process of demobilisation. [read full review]

The SBS in World War II - An Illustrated History, Gavin Mortimer. Follows the history of the Special Boat Squadron from a fairly disastrous start to its later successes across the eastern Mediterranean. The small size of the unit allows Mortimer to include detailed accounts of many if not most SBS operations, including some disasters amongst the many spectacular successes. [read full review]

Secret Flotillas: Clandestine Sea Operations to Brittany 1940-44 Vol 1, Brook Richards. Looks at the efforts to maintain a clandestine sea link between Britain and Brittany, transferring agents and supplies to France and rescuing a wide range of people from France (including members of the resistance on the run, Allied airmen and other evaders). A splendid account of a difficult and bold series of operations. [read full review]

The Silent Service in World War II, ed. Edward Monroe-Jones and Michael Green. A collection of first-hand accounts of life in American submarines in the Pacific during the Second World War, from the early days in a handful of out-of-date subs to the eventual dominance of the fleet submarines and the destruction of much of the Japanese merchant marine. [read full review]

The British Pacific Fleet: The Royal Navy's Most Powerful Strike Force, David Hobbs. A history of the most powerful fleet in British naval history, tracing its rapid development from shaky early days in the Indian ocean to its involvement in the invasion of Okinawa and operations alongside the Americans off the coast of Japan. [read full review]

Clydebank Battlecruisers, Ian Johnston. An impressive collection of photographs taken at John Brown & Sons during the construction of the battlecruisers Inflexible, Australia, Tiger, Repulse and Hood during their construction between 1906 and 1920. The pictures are very crisp and provide a fascinating view of these powerful warships under construction. [read full review]

German Capital Ships of the Second World War, Siegfried Breyer & Miroslaw Skwuit. A splendid photographic history of the seven completed capital ships to serve with the German navy during the Second World War, with an impressive collection of photos showing each of the ships under construction, in service and showing their eventual fate. [read full review]

Axis Warships: As Seen on Photos from Allied Intelligence Files, Colonel Roy M. Stanley II. Based around an impressive collection of aerial photos of Axis and Vichy warships collected by the author, a professional aerial photo interpreter for nearly thirty years. The author examines each picture, providing a professional view of what we are seeing. [read full review]

Warspite, From Jutland to Cold War Warrior, Iain Ballantyne. A history of the super-dreadnaught HMS Warspite, a warship that played a major part in both World Wars, fighting at the battles of Jutland and of Cape Matapan. An interesting story, well supported by a large number of quotes from sailors who served on the Warspite. Also includes brief histories of the other seven warships to carry the same name. [read full review]

German Commerce Raider vs British Cruiser, Robert Forczyk. A look at the series of six battles between German commerce raiders and British and Australian cruisers and armed merchants cruisers during 1940 and 1941, a period that saw the converted German warships perform surprisingly well against more powerful opponents while at the same time taking a toll of Allied shipping [read full review]

US Coast Guard in World War II, Alejandro de Quesada. A good look at the surprisingly impressive contribution made to the American war effort by the U.S. Coast Guard, which included air-sea rescue, anti-submarine work and the manning of landing craft that took part in the island-hoping campaign in the Pacific and the D-Day landings. [read full review]

Arctic Convoy PQ8: The Story of Capt Robert Brundle and the SS Harmatris, Michael Wadsworth. Combines an autobiography of the author's grandfather with the story of Arctic Convoys PQ8 and QP14 to produce a very human view of the arctic convoys and the struggles and suffering of the crews that helped get essential supplies to the Soviet Union. [read full review]

British Official History

The War at Sea, 1939-1945, Volume I: The Defensive, S. W. Roskill. This first volume in the British official history of the war at sea covers the period from the outbreak of the war through to the first British disasters in the Pacific in December 1941. Amongst other topics it covers the Norwegian campaign, the evacuation from Dunkirk and the first two years of the Battle of the Atlantic. The text is meticulously researched, and is rooted in a detailed study of wartime records, both British and German. [see more]


In Action with the Destroyers 1939-1945 - The Wartime memoirs of Commander J A J Dennis DSC RN, ed. Anthony Cumming. A very engaging autobiography, covering the author&rsquos wartime experiences in destroyers, and in particular his time on the Griffin, a modern destroyer, but with limited AA capability. Dennis&rsquos wartime career included the Malta convoys, the Arctic convoys, anti-invasion duties in 1940, the D-Day landings of 1944, a brief foray into the Indian Ocean at the height of the threat from Japan, the evacuation from Crete and an impressively wide range of other battles and theatres(Read Full Review)

Erich Raeder - Admiral of the Third Reich, Keith W. Bird. Looks at the full career of the first commander-in-chief of Hitler&rsquos navy, a man who was often overshadowed by his successor Donitz and his U-boat war, but who played a major part in shaping the Kriegsmarine, both physically and politically. Undermines his claims to have been a non-political leader, and shows how close he was to the Nazi leadership, before eventually their different views of Germany&rsquos war aims, and Hitler&rsquos rather unrealistic expectations of the Navy forced his resignation(Read Full Review)

Diving Stations - The Story of Captain George Hunt and The Ultor, Peter Dornan. Follows the wartime career of Captain George Hunt, commander of a U-class submarine in the Mediterranean theatre where he sank more enemy ships than any other British submarine. A fascinating insight into life on a small submarine, carrying only eight torpedoes and with a tiny crew, operating in difficult waters. [read full review]

The Quiet Admiral, A Biography of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, Thomas B. Buell. This is widely considered to be the best biography of Spruance, currently available in this reissued edition. Buell nicely contrasts Spruance with Halsey, his co-commander of the combined third and fifth fleets from 1944, as well as looking at his handling of Midway, the battle that made his name.

In Bitter Tempest: The Biography of Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, Stephen D. Regan. A much needed biography of one of the most important American admirals in the year after Pearl Harbor. Regan had rare access to Fletcher's papers, as well as to a wide range of interviews given before his death, and has produced a very valuable work on a neglected figure.

Ships - General

Soryu, Hiryu & Unryu Class Aircraft Carriers in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II, Lars Ahlberg & Hans Lengerer. A detailed examination of the Soryu and Hiryu and the closely related Unryu class medium carriers, with good sections on the reasons for their construction, their physical layouts, their aviation facilities, where they fit in the overall history of Japanese carriers, and for those that actually had one their combat careers. Very detailed, with some very technical sections, but generally readable, and providing a good operational and design history of these important Japanese carriers (Read Full Review)

The Battleships of the Iowa Class, Philippe Caresse. An impressive history of the Iowa class battleships, translated flawlessly from French, and with the space within its 500 pages to contain a detailed technical history of the ships, accounts of each of their long service careers and to have more photographs than most pictorial guides could ever hope to have! The photographs benefit greatly from the survival of all four of these ships, to show us fascinating views of their interioirs, of the type that almost never survive for their contemporary warships (Read Full Review)

Black Swan Class Sloops, Les Brown. An excellent look at the Black Swan and Modified Black Swan class sloops using the Navy&rsquos original high quality working drawings, to give an incredibly detailed view of the layout and internal arrangements of these high quality anti-submarine warfare vessels. Provides plans from four different ships, including the Amethyst, famously trapped in the Yangtze after coming under fire from Chinese Communist forces(Read Full Review)

German Destroyers, Robert Brown. A guide to the German destroyers of the Second World War targeting those who wish to build models of these modern but flawed warships. Lots of good detail on their technical specs, physical appearance and how it changed over time, along with reviews of the various kits available, and examples of some high quality builds. Could do with brief service histories, but otherwise useful (Read Full Review)

Battleship Warspite &ndashdetailed in the original builder&rsquos plans, Robert Brown. Fascinating study of the Warspite based around the original builder&rsquos plans, both from her original contruction and the 1930s reconstruction. Shows the ship in incredible detail, showing just how complex these massive warships were. The details plans are accompanied by excellent explanatory notes, following the design, development and modifications of the Warspite over nearly forty years. Benefits from the use of a magnifying glass to pick out the impressive wealth of fine details!(Read Full Review)

Wartime Standard Ships, Nick Robins. Looks at the surprisingly wide variety of &lsquostandard&rsquo ships produced by the Allied and Axis nations during the two World Wars, covering their design, construction, civil service and military usage. Could have done with more basic info for those without a background in maritime matters, but is otherwise an interesting look at the massive industrial effort that defeated both German U-boat campaigns and produced many of the ships used in the inter-war and post-war periods(Read Full Review)

The Boat that Won the War - An Illustrated History of the Higgins LCVP, Charles C. Roberts, Jr. A detailed examination of the history, design and construction of the LCVP, the most famous landing craft of the Second World War and an iconic vessel that played a key part in amphibious operations from Normandy to the Pacific. Supported by a huge array of detailed plans, contemporary photographs and wartime documents, and written by someone who has restored one of these boats, this is a very valuable look at this key weapon (Read Full Review)

US Standard Type Battleships 1941-45 (2): Tennessee, Colorado and Unbuilt Classes, Mark Stille . Looks at the 'Big Five', the last standard-type battleships built for the US Navy, and the most powerful ships in the US Navy for much of the interwar period. Covers their design, original purpose and actual Second World War service, where their limited speed meant they could no longer serve with the battle fleet. Despite that limit they played a major part in the Pacific War, and four fought in the last battleship action of the war. [read full review]

Japanese Battleships 1897-1945 - A Photographic Archive, R A Burt . Looks at the battleships, battlecruisers and some of the heavy armoured cruisers that served with the Japanese navy between the purchase of the two Fuji class ships from Britain in the 1890s to its destruction in 1945. A splendid selection of photographs that trace the evolution of these warships, both from ship-to-ship and after the major reconstructions carried out on many First World War era Japanese ships. [read full review]

Warships after Washington - The Development of the Five Major Fleets 1922-1930, John Jordan . Looks at the impact of the Washington Naval Treaty on the development of the British, American, Japanese, French and Italian fleets and the types of ships designed and built during the 1920s. Fills a gap in the literature on warship development, and helps explain the 'why' of interwar ship design, as well as looking at the successes and failures of the treaty. [read full review]

Cruiser HNLMS Tromp, Jantinus Mulder. Looks at the design, construction and wartime career of the light cruiser HNLMS Tromp, one of the most famous Dutch ships of the Second World War and the ship the Japanese claimed to have sunk more often than any other. Contains a good selection of photographs and plans of the Tromp and an account of her wartime career that focuses on the more dramatic moments of her career in Far Eastern seas. [read full review]

The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948, Erminio Bagnasco and Augusto de Toro. A splendid study of the four Littorio class battleships, looking at their development, design, construction and service history, with a focus on the way in which the design of the ships affected them in combat. Supported by hundreds of excellent photographs and line drawings. [read full review]

Yamato Class Battleships, Steve Wiper. Aimed at the modeller, this volume contains reviews of the best kits of the massive Yamato class of battleships and book reviews written from the point of view of their usefulness for the modeller. Also contains a good section on the design, construction, service record and eventual fate of the two battleships and one aircraft carrier in the class. [read full review]

Ships - Britain and Commonweath

Battlecruiser Repulse: detailed in the original builder&rsquos plans, John Roberts. A fascinating set of details plans of the battlecruiser Repulse, looking at her when newly completed in 1916 and after her major modification of 1933-36. Reveals the complexity of these major warships, as well as the small scale domestic details needed to maintain their crew, so we get to see the massive structures associated with the main guns, details of the armour protection, the layout of the engine rooms, but also the location of the bread cooling room, book stall and soda siphon!(Read Full Review)

Destroyer Cossack detailed in the original builders&rsquo plans, John Roberts. A splendid entry in this series based around builders plans of warships, looking at the Second World War Tribal class destroyer HMS Cossack. Includes the normal series of deck and side plans taken from the massive &lsquoas fitted&rsquo plans, along with more unusual plans, including detailed plans of the engine room and bridge, diagrams showing the water supply system and internal fuel pipes and extra plans showing other members of the class, as well as a design history of the class, and a more detailed look at the Cossack&rsquos own short service life.(Read Full Review)

Destroyer at War &ndash The fighting life and loss of HMS Havock from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean 1939-1941, David Goodey and Richard Osborne. HMS Havock was one of the most active British destroyers of the Second World War, taking part in the Norwegian campaign, the fall of Holland, the battle of Matapan, the evacuation from Greece and Crete, the campaign in North Africa and the efforts to keep Tobruk and Malta supplied, before eventually being lost after running aground while attempting to escape from Malta (Read Full Review)

Commonwealth Cruisers 1939-45, Angus Konstam . Looks at the cruisers that fought with the navies of Australia, New Zealand and Canada during the Second World War, playing a part in the Pacific, Atlantic and Mediterranean theatres. Focuses heavily on the navies and the ships themselves rather than their operational histories, so good if you want to know what the Dominions had, less so if you want to know what they did. Supported by excellent photos and illustrations. [read full review]

British Aircraft Carriers - Design, Development and Service Histories, David Hobbs. The definitive history of the British aircraft carrier, written by a former RN officer who served on carriers and was deeply involved in the work of the Invincible class carriers. As a result the author has a much more in-depth knowledge of the technical background to carrier design that most, and we get a much better understanding of the thinking behind each new type of carrier, their abilities and limitations and how that affected their service careers. [read full review]

Battleship Ramillies: The Final Salvo, ed. Ian Johnston with Mick French . A series of first-hand accounts of life on the Ramillies, almost all during the Second World War, where she served on convoy escort duty, was badly damaged during the invasion of Madagascar and fired so many 15in shells in support of the D-Day invasions that her main guns had to be replaced. [read full review]

Nelson to Vanguard, Warship Design and Development 1923-1945, David K Brown. A study of the design of British warships during the period of the Naval Treaties and the Second World War, written by a post-war Deputy Chief Naval Architect. A fascinating and invaluable book that greatly benefits from the expert knowledge of the author. [read full review]

The Ultimate Sacrifice, David Turner. Written by a nephew of one of the officers lost on HMS Royal Oak, this book looks at the loss of that battleship, sunk at anchor in Scapa Flow on 14 October 1939. After setting the sinking in context, Turner focuses on the fate of the crew of the Royal Oak, reminding us of the terrible price paid by the 833 victims of the sinking. [see more]

British Destroyers From Earliest Days to the Second World War, Norman Friedman. A very detailed look at the design of British destroyers from their earliest roots as torpedo boat destroyers, though the First World War and up to the start of the Second World War, supported by vast numbers of plans and well chosen photographs [read full review]

Ships - France

French Destroyers 1922-1956, John Jordan & Jean Moulin . A splendid study of the French Torpilleurs d'escadre and Contre-Torpilleurs (large 'super destroyers') of the interwar period, impressive warships that had limited wartime careers. Covers both the technical features of the ships and their service careers, supported by excellent plans and contemporary photographs. I can&rsquot imagine anyone every publishing a more detailed book on this topic in English. [read full review]

Ships - Germany

Battleship Bismarck &ndash A Design and Operational History, William Garzke Jr, Robert O Dulin Jr and William Jurens, with James Cameron. The most detailed book on a single ship I&rsquove ever read, covering the entire history of German capital ship design after the First World War, their service records before the Bismarck&rsquos fatal cruise, followed by a massively detailed account of the Bismarck&rsquos one war cruise, including the battle of the Denmark Strait and the final sinking of the Bismarck, covering just about every shot fired by every ship, every bit of damage suffered by the Bismarck, all supported by evidence from the German survivors, British eyewitnesses and the dives to the wreck(Read Full Review)

Hitler's Forgotten Flotillas - Kriegsmarine Security Forces, Lawrence Paterson . Looks at the role played by smaller warships in the German war effort, covering minesweepers, patrol ships, mine layers, submarine hunters and fleet escort ships - the ships that fell between the fast 'E-boats' and larger destroyers and above. Combines good background information with a clear narrative framework of their activities and a good selection of accounts of individual engagements [read full review]

Heavy Cruisers of the Admiral Hipper Class, Gerhard Koop and Klaus-Peter Schmolke . Looks at the three heavy cruisers that served with the German Navy during the Second World War, and the two members of the class that were never completed. Includes development histories, service histories and an impressive collection of photographs and plans. [read full review]

Battleships of the Scharnhorst Class, Gerhard Koop and Klaus-Peter Schmolke . Looks at the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the first interwar German battleships to ignore most naval treaty restrictions, and the most active of the German battleships of the Second World War. An excellent history of these two ships that pulls no punches about the flaws in their designs. [read full review]

German Light Cruisers of World War II, Gerhard Koop and Klaus-Peter Schmolke. A detailed history of the six light cruisers of the German Navy written by an author who actually served on one of them, this is an impressively unbiased examination of a fairly unimpressive set of warships that were never quite able to live up to the demands made of them. [read full review]

German Destroyers of World War II, Gerhard Koop and Klaus-Peter Schmolke. A very useful history of the forty two destroyers that served with the German Navy during the Second World War, organised first by design feature, then by combat engagement and finally destroyer-by-destroyer to paint a complete picture of these hard working but temperamental warships. [read full review]

Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, Steve Backer. A modelmaker's guide to the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, including a brief history of the ships, reviews of the best models and accessories, a showcase of some very impressive models, some useful plans of the two ships and an examination of the various camouflage schemes used and changes to the ship's appearances. [read full review]

Killing the Bismarck - Destroying the Pride of Hitler's Fleet, Ian Ballantyne. A compelling account of the hunt for the Bismarck, told almost entirely from the British point of view, until the final battle between the crippled Bismarck and the British home fleet, when we are taken onboard the doomed German battleship for a graphic account of her fate. [read full review]

Ships - United States

US Navy Light Cruisers 1941-45, Mark Stille . Covers the five classes of US Navy light cruisers that saw service during the Second World War, with sections on their design, weaponry, radar, combat experience. Nicely organised, with the wartime service records separated out from the main text, so that the design history of the light cruisers flows nicely. Interesting to see how new roles had to be found for them, after other technology replaced them as reconnaissance aircraft [read full review]

US Destroyers 1934-45 Pre-war classes, Dave McComb. A look at the design, construction and service record of the ten classes of destroyers built for the US Navy between the resumption of destroyer construction in the early 1930s and the American entry into the Second World War, from the Farragut class of 1934 to the massive Gleaves class, of which sixty-six were funded between 1938 and 1942. [read full review]

US Heavy Cruisers 1941-45: Pre War Classes, Mark Stille. Looks at the 'treaty cruisers' built in the US between the wars, limited by treaty to 10,000 tons and 8in guns. Five classes of treaty cruisers were produced and they played a major role in the fighting during the Second World War, despite the limits imposed on them by the treaty restrictions. [read full review]

Iowa Class Battleships, Lester Abbey. A modeller's guide to the four ships of the Iowa class, the best American battleships and the longest serving capital ships of the modern era. Includes a history of the ships and their designs, a section of model reviews, a modellers showcase showing some very impressive models, and a section on the changing appearance of these ships over time. [read full review]

The U-boat War

Hitler&rsquos Attack U-Boats &ndash The Kriegsmarine&rsquos WWII Submarine Strike Force, Jak P. Mallmann Showell. Focuses on a physical description of the three main U-boat models in German service during the Second World War, the Type II, Type VII and Type IX. Includes good sections on their development, but the main strength are the three chapters on the external features, internal features and crew positions on these boats, which include many details I hadn&rsquot seen elsewhere, and which give a fascinating picture of life in these cramped and dangerous weapons(Read Full Review)

Churchill's Greatest Fear: The Battle of the Atlantic 3 September 1939 to 7 May 1945, Richard Doherty. Covers the full length of the battle, bringing in topics that are rarely covered, such as the important of realistic training or the role of operational research in the improvement of Allied countermeasures, helping to prove that most attacks came from within the convoy or that larger convoys were safer. Also good on technological developments on both sides, and the strengths and flaws of the many weapons used during the long battle (Read Full Review)

U-Boats Beyond Biscay - Dönitz Looks to New Horizons, Bernard Edwards . An account of selected exploits of the U-Boats operating away from the normal North Atlantic battle, looking at 1941-January 1943. Starts and ends at somewhat random points, and lacks much context, but within those limits the accounts of individual U-boat battles are good, with interesting material on the previous experiences of both the U-boats and merchant ships [read full review]

Critical Convoy Battles of WWII - Crisis in the North Atlantic, March 1943, Jurgen Rohwer. Focuses on the successful U-boat attacks on convoys HX.229 and SC.122, looking at how earlier convoys were able to avoid attack, why those particular convoys were hit so hard, the methods being used by both sides, and their impact on the longer term result of the Battle of the Atlantic. A useful study, despite its age (first published in 1977), in particular because of its focus on the successful German attacks of March 1943, which thus get the attention they deserve rather than being seen as a precursor to the Allied victories later in the summer. [read full review]

No Room for Mistakes - British and Allied Submarine Warfare 1939-1940, Geirr H Haarr . An excellent detailed history of Allied submarine warfare during the first sixteen months of the Second World War, a period of dramatic changes in the situation at sea, in which the British submarine service had to find a suitable role and absorb heavy losses, while coping with the Norwegian campaign and the sudden expansion of their duties after the Fall of France. [read full review]

German U-Boat Losses During World War II, Axel Niestlé . An excellent well documented and credible summary of the current state of knowledge on U-Boat losses during the Second World War, reflecting the discoveries made in German archives and in underwater explanation in the sixty years since the original post-war assessments were made. Each change is supported by a clear explanation of why the original assessment is wrong, and the evidence for the new assessment [read full review]

Black Flag: The Surrender of Germany's U-Boats, 1945, Lawrence Paterson. A fascinating and well balanced look at the surrender of the German U-boat force, the only part of the German armed forces still to be stretched out around the world at the end of the Second World War. Paterson covers the surrenders at sea and in Allied ports, the Allied occupation of the remaining U-boat bases in France, Norway and Germany and the surrender of those men from the U-boat force who found them selves involved in the fighting on land in the last days of the war. [read full review]

Grey Wolves - The U-boat War 1939-1945, Philip Kaplan. A thematic approach to the U-boat war, looking at elements such as the crews, captains, protected shelters, individual aspects of the U-boat campaign itself, their weapons and their opponents. Provides some interesting insights into the Battle of the Atlantic, although is best used along a more conventional history of the Battle of the Atlantic. [read full review]

Dönitz, U-boats, Convoys, Jak. P. Mallmann Showell. - The British Version of his memoirs from the Admiralty's Secret Anti-Submarine Reports. Takes the monthly British reports on the U-boat war and compares them to Dönitz's memoirs to give an idea of how both sides saw the progress of the battle of the Atlantic and how that related to actual events on the oceans. [read full review]

Teddy Suhren, Ace of Aces, Teddy Suhren and Fritz Brustat-Naval. The memoirs of one of the most successful U-boat commanders of the Second World War, covering his early training, his time at sea, where he was one of the most successful U-boat aces, and the final years of his wartime career, when he was given a series of shore commands in a deliberate attempt by his superiors to make sure he survived. [read full review]

The Wolf Packs Gather: Mayhem in the Western Approaches 1940, Bernard Edwards. A study of the fate of four convoys hit very hard by the German U-boat wolf packs in the autumn of 1940. Forty-eight merchant ships were lost, hundreds of trained merchant seamen were lost and hundreds of thousands of tons of cargo sent to the bottom of the Atlantic, threatening Britain's ability to stay in the war. [read full review]

U-Boat Tactics in World War II, Gordon Williamson. A well focused look at the offensive and defensive tactics used by the U-boats, focusing mainly on the Battle of the Atlantic but also covering the smaller number of U-boats that operated further afield. Well illustrated and well organised, the book provides a good overview of U-boat tactics and how they evolved during the Second World War. [read full review]

Periscope View, George Simpson. Autobiography written by the commander of the 10th Submarine Flotilla from 1941-43, focusing on his time in command of a unit that sank or damaged over one millions tons of Axis shipping in the Mediterranean but at a very heavy cost, losing half of its submarines [read full review]

Business in Great Waters: The U-boat Wars 1916-1945, John Terraine. This is a classic account of the struggle between the German U-boat and the Allied navies during the First and Second World Wars, seen from both sides of the battle, and with excellent coverage of the intelligence and technological aspects of the fighting. [read full review]

Watch the video: World War II - The Eastern Front 110 - Russian Battles 13 - The Battle of Kursk